Olivia Barber will line up for Geelong for the first time on Saturday when the Cats take on Melbourne in an AFLW practice match at GMHBA stadium.
The Albury export was selected by the Cats with pick 21 in last year's AFLW draft and will play at full forward and in the ruck against the experienced Demons.
Barber said the biggest eye opener since she arrived at Geelong has been the step up in professionalism.
"It's pretty cool. The whole experience has been pretty amazing and a bit surreal," she said.
"I'm grabbing the opportunity with both hands and making the most of it.
"I'm not going to say it was easy (to move from Albury), it was pretty hard, but to play footy and be where I want to be, I had to do it.
"My independence has gotten much stronger I can say that."
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Barber managed one practice match with the Murray Bushrangers in 2020 and suffered a concussion in the first round clash before COVID-19 rules brought an end to the NAB League season.
She revealed it's been a steep learning curve in her first AFLW pre-season.
"Coming from Murray Bushrangers, it's very different because I'm now training and playing alongside girls 10 or more years older than me," Barber said.
"I've had to adapt to playing against bigger bodies and stronger women than me.
"Meg McDonald is our captain this year and she's probably one of my biggest inspirations. She pushes me and she's a lot stronger build, which makes it harder."
Barber said one of the biggest challenges has been the limits on training, with the Cats' squad split into smaller groups in order to meet COVID-19 rules.
"It's been a little bit interrupted and we haven't been able to train as a group all the time," she said.
"Everyone is training at their best, but it is a bit annoying because I would like to get to know all the girls and train with all of them together.
"Sometimes we're in three groups of 10 or two groups of 15."
Barber is keen to come up against former Vic Country teammates Isabella Simmons and Maggie Caris, who were both drafted to Melbourne.
"We haven't had too much conversation about match-ups because we're mainly focusing on our game and how we play," she added.
"I'm just excited to be playing again to be honest. It's going to be heaps of fun."
Fellow Murray Bushrangers products Rebecca Webster and Millie Brown have also been named for the Cats.
Corowa's Ruby Svarc will play alongside older sister, Cathy, in Brisbane's clash against Gold Coast on Saturday.