Kirsty Lamb enters her ninth AFLW season in new colours, looking to make an impact at Alberton. Image: Jess Green.

WHEN Kirsty Lamb arrived at Port Adelaide, one of the first questions she had to answer was what guernsey number she would wear.

In her junior days, she always wore number five but that number belonged to 2023 Best and Fairest Abbey Dowrick. There was also the number 27 she donned in her 67 games with the Western Bulldogs, but that too was taken, by key forward Gemma Houghton.

But there was one other number that came to mind – the number 35 she wore to training as a child on the back of her signed replica Port Adelaide guernsey in honour of her favourite player, Chad Cornes.

Past player and current assistant coach for the men's program, Chad Cornes, was Kirsty Lamb's favourite player growing up. Image: AFL Photos.

“I always had the iron on numbers 35, and I was telling Chad recently that I wore my Port jumper to every training session as a kid rain, hail or shine and I wore it so much that I'd wear out all the signatures.

“I’d get it signed, then I’d wear it and have to wash it and before you knew it it had no signatures on it because it'd been washed so many times, and the numbers 35 used to keep peeling off so I’d just keep buying new ones all the time.

“When Racheal Sporn asked me what number I wanted to wear when I got to the club, as a junior I wore number five because I just loved the number five, and then obviously at the Bulldogs I was 27, because my birthday is the 27th but obviously Abbey and Gemma have those numbers so I had to find another number that means something of significance to me.

“When I saw 35, it felt like it was just meant to be.”

Despite her father supporting Essendon, other family ties somehow led her to barracking for Port Adelaide. Her uncle, Paul Rizonico played more than 100 SANFL games for the club between 1989 and 1994 and remains a favourite at Alberton, currently working as the AFL interchange steward.

“Uncle Paul” would bring Lamb in to meet the players in the changerooms, and to this day, some of her most prized possessions are signed Chad Cornes playing cards and badges that are kept at her parents’ house in Melbourne.

A young Kirsty and her uncle Paul Rizonico, who played for Port Adelaide in the SANFL between '89 and '94. Image: Supplied.

“Chad was the guy I tried to model my game on,” she explained. “I’m not sure I have quite lived up to his standard or expectations, but he was the person growing up that I just watched very closely and I tried to do everything like him.

“There's something about the way he went about his football, sort of a hard in-and-under character and wore the jumper with a lot of pride.”

It’s a guernsey Lamb is now excited to wear with similar pride when she gets to put it on in her first official game for the club this season, having made the move to Alberton from the Bulldogs on the final day of December’s AFLW Trade Period.

A talented cricketer growing up who played state cricket for Victoria and in the Women’s Big Bash League for the Melbourne Renegades, Lamb remains a very grounded and driven country girl at heart, owing to her upbringing at Yarrambat, a small town north-east of Melbourne.

Kirsty Lamb (left) played cricket for Victoria in the Women's National Cricket League and for the Melbourne Renegades in the WBBL. Image: Alex Coppel/Herald Sun.

Currently completing her Masters in Business Administration, Lamb went to university straight out of school and has been “studying ever since”.  

First there was a Bachelor of Exercise Science, then a remedial massage course, and now the MBA.

And it’s not only off-field where she is constantly learning, eager to get to know her teammates and the gameplan under Port Adelaide coach Lauren Arnell.

Between winning an AFLW premiership in 2018 and claiming the best and fairest medal in 2022 (Season 6) at the Bulldogs, Lamb already tasted both group and individual success, and now wants to bring her experience to Alberton.

“My leadership is something I've worked on for a number of years,” she said.

“When I first started playing footy at the Bulldogs, I had absolutely no intentions whatsoever to be a leader, it never crossed my mind, but then once I sort of got a taste of it, I felt like I could sort of add value in in that area.

“I've been around the system obviously, coming into my ninth season, and if I look back at my first year, I didn't know right from wrong or what the standard or the expectation was.

Kirsty Lamb brings valuable experience and leadership to a young Port Adelaide group. Image: Jess Green.

“Now that I've been in the system for that long, I guess the onus is on me and you know, other players that are my age who have been in the system for a few years to set the set the tone.”

And she will also bring a great attitude to the group.

“Here I am nearly 30, and I know I actually don't have that much longer left in the game,” Lamb smiled. “So, I’ll be encouraging the girls to make the most of the opportunity and sort of not wish it away too quickly.

“I haven’t set any real expectations other than obviously enjoying the moment but working our backsides off to make sure that we're giving ourselves the best opportunity to win games of football.”