Laura Stone hasn’t even played an AFLW game yet but she’s already becoming a popular player among the Hawthorn faithful. 

The 18-year-old arrived at the Hawks via the AFLW’s pre-signing selection period, giving her and Eastern Ranges teammates Hayley McLaughlin and Jess Vukic, the opportunity to join the club before the draft. 

Having played six VFLW matches so far, Stone has developed her skills as an AFLW midfielder and half-back. 

Donning a pink headband each time she suits up for the brown and gold, she is hard to miss on the field. 

But for those yet to catch a glimpse of Stone in action, she told the Soaring to New Heights podcast what they could expect come August.

“I think (Hawks fans) can expect a pretty fast and agile player,” she said.

“I love to attack the footy and use my speed as my strength.

“I try to break the game open.”

Break the game open is exactly what she did when she burst onto the scene as a midfielder with Box Hill’s VFLW side last year, averaging 17.5 disposals in her two appearances. 

Now, she has slotted seamlessly into a half-back role this VFLW season after achieving All Australian and Coates Talent League Team of the Year success in that position last year.

“I’m enjoying the backline at the moment,” Stone said.

“Playing half-back and having that run-off is one of my strengths.”

“I haven’t played half-back in a while so in my first VFL game, I was a bit nervous about it and almost forgot how to play it but the players really helped me and directed me all the time so I didn’t feel out of place at all.”

Stone felt that connection and comfort from the moment she was selected to play for Box Hill last year as a budding 17-year-old. 

Although nervous to take the field against bigger and more experienced bodies, Stone was made to feel at ease by her VFLW teammates at the time.

“I was obviously very nervous coming into it, I didn’t know what to expect,” she said.

“I knew that there was such a talented group at Box Hill so I was really happy with how I performed.

“Credit to the players in how they look after us Ranges girls coming in.

“They made it feel so easy and like we were coming home

“I felt like I had been playing there for ages and that’s definitely helped this year coming in as well.”

Now making the transition to AFLW, Stone is grateful to have fellow pre-signings Vukic and McLaughlin by her side.

“They’re probably some of my closest friends so it’s been awesome,” Stone said.

“It was pretty surreal to have them join me as well, I connect pretty well with them.

“I’ve worked with Jess a lot in particular as she’s been the ruck and we’ve had that good connection in the midfield.”

In terms of what comes next for Stone, she will keep building on her goals for the 2024 season.

“Holistically, I’ve tried to build my confidence up a bit and taking on the game more,” she said.

“It’s really been something I’ve tried to focus on so I feel much better in that space.

“I’ve also tried to improve on my decision-making and trying to hit up closer targets as well.”

Hawthorn’s AFLW pre-season commences in June while a host of players are set to continue playing in the VFLW, with the next match scheduled for Sunday afternoon against the Western Bulldogs at Mission Whitten Oval.

Show your support for Stone and our AFLW team by becoming a member! Sign up here.