- Darcy Guttridge is 'relieved' she won't have to face her partner, Demon Bianca Jakobsson at RSEA Park in Friday's Pride Game.
- Friday night will mark St Kilda's first AFLW Pride Game.
- Despite an altered pre-season, Guttridge says she is 'close to her best'.
St Kilda utility Darcy Guttridge says she is 'relieved' that she won't have to face her partner Bianca Jakobsson at RSEA Park in Friday's Pride Game.
Jakobsson had been a mainstay in Melbourne's midfield since 2017, but made the decision to sit out this season to focus on her career in the police academy.
The pair haven't discussed what it would have been like to go head-to-head, but Guttridge's mind will be a little bit clearer in the lead-up to the match.
"I know she's sad about missing the season all together but we haven't spoken directly about her not being able to play against me this weekend," Guttridge told womens.afl.
"I'm kind of relieved, she's a very talented footballer and a super competitive person.
"I want to see 'Beej' as an individual do well in all that she does, so now with her not being out there, it takes away that aspect for me and I can easily focus on the task ahead."
The 'task' at hand is one of great significance to St Kilda, with the club being involved in the annual Pride Game against Sydney since 2016 in the men's competition.
This is the first time the Saints and Demons will play each other in a Pride Game in the women's competition, joining the Western Bulldogs and Carlton.
"It's so exciting that we get to host a Pride Game at RSEA Park," Guttridge said.
"It'll be great being at home.
"The Western Bulldogs game; the crowd was phenomenal, so if we could get that support again that would go a long way towards a win."
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Despite Jakobsson not being out there, Guttridge will be surrounded by plenty of familiar faces, having spent time with the Casey Demons in the VFLW a few years ago.
Guttridge can't wait to face Tyla Hanks, a player who she went through the junior ranks with at Gippsland Power.
Forget the trash talk though, Guttridge holds the Demons' young gun in high regard.
"Hanksy, she's an absolute superstar. I've got nothing but respect for Hanksy and I'm loving her playing great football."
Despite Hanks coming into the competition a year later than her friend, the Melbourne midfielder has played twice as many games due to a horrid run of injuries for the young Saint.
Guttridge missed all of her first season with a collarbone injury, but she's taken it in her stride and credits it as a 'character-building' experience.
"It sucks getting injured post-draft. There's so much hype coming into your first season," she said.
"Funnily enough, it was a practice match against Melbourne and it was my now-teammate Cat Phillips that did it."
Guttridge managed three games in year two, but the start of her season wasn't ideal.
"Round one, it was my own form as to why I wasn't selected. I could have been better. I'll own that," she said.
"Round two, I twinged my quad a bit, but after that I worked hard to get on the list of 21."
Guttridge said her pre-season this year was 'altered quite a bit' but she's physically close to her best now.
"I somehow managed to get inflammation within both of my patellas, which gave me a bit of grief," she said.
"I did it in the VFLW at the end of the season and played through the finals with it.
"A month ago I was still taping my knees up so it would offload my patellas and they could glide a bit better."
The good news is she's just taken a huge stride in her recovery, playing for the first time without tape.
"It's a big step. Our medical staff were not expecting me to play without that support," she said.