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Melbourne Football Club

AFLW: Daisy still playing her role

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: Daisy Pearce chats to first year player Ashleigh Woodland (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: Daisy Pearce chats to first year player Ashleigh Woodland (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
She's a first-year-player mentor and she's really a great link between the coaches and the players. And the benefits of her getting to know the new players … hopefully they get to play with her the following season
Mick Stinear on Pearce's role

MELBOURNE'S expectant captain Daisy Pearce is still playing a key role preparing the players for the new AFLW season.

Pearce, whose twins are due in February, has committed to every training session until the Christmas break in an unofficial assistant coach role and then will reappraise her workload.

Under the AFL's pregnancy policy, Pearce is paid for the duration of her playing contract, which runs till the end of the 2019 AFLW season.

The club's best and fairest of the past two years encouraged and instructed teammates during and after skills drills at the Demons' first training session at Gosch's Paddock on Thursday night.

"Obviously, we would prefer to have her on the field, but actually we're pretty lucky to have her still wanting to be involved and give for the team," coach Mick Stinear said after the 80-minute session.

"She's a first-year-player mentor and she's really a great link between the coaches and the players. And the benefits of her getting to know the new players … hopefully they get to play with her the following season."

It was a newlook Demons group after losing six players to the incoming AFLW teams – four to Geelong (Melissa Hickey, Richelle Cranston, Erin Hoare and Anna Teague) and two to North Melbourne (Jasmine Grierson and Emma Humphries) – and Stinear is positive and philosophical with the rebuilding in his third season as senior coach.

"It is the nature of the competition, but we're been able to get some good players into the club. Having come from (coaching) the (under-18 TAC Cup side) Oakleigh Chargers, you turn over half your list every year," he said.

"With the change in personnel and some leaders not playing or moving on, it has seen the emergence of a core group, like Kate Hore, Karen Paxman, Tegan Cunningham, Lily Mithen, Bianca Jakobsson, Katherine Smith.

"There's a genuine core group that really want to see this group achieve success. And that has been a real positive to come out of some of the change.

"We have 10 new players, a third of our team, and we like to think we can keep building on what we've done the last two years and we have to make sure we bring everyone along for the ride.

"The exciting thing with this group is watching the peer development, really helping each other understand the game, the fundamentals and the new players learn the behaviour and standards that we expect of each other."

The Demons welcomed back forward Ainslie Kemp and defender Sarah Lampard from knee reconstructions – Kemp missed the entire season after injuring an ACL in a training mishap and Lampard lasted less than a half in the final home-and-away round after returning from a serious hamstring ailment.

"It's like having two new recruits. They're both in our best team and we missed them last season. They've actually spent the time out working on their bodies and building themselves up to, hopefully, be AFLW players for the next 10 years," Stinear said.

Star midfielder Paxman, as usual, set the standard at the head of the pack with her mix of speed and endurance in the gut-running laps at the end of the session.

"She has put in a power of work, that doesn't happen by chance. Shelley Scott is up there too, she doesn't want to see 'Paxy' the one out there winning all the time, and Sarah Lampard is not far away," the coach said.