MELBOURNE’S Isabella Simmons has been ruled out of the 2022 NAB AFL Women’s season with a foot injury.
The 19-year-old sustained a stress fracture in her foot prior to the Christmas break, with further scans revealing the extent of the damage.
Senior coach Mick Stinear said it was a disappointing result for Simmons, who had been putting in a strong pre-season.
“While we were hoping for a quick recovery, unfortunately recent scans have revealed an injury that will see Issy miss the upcoming AFLW season,” he told Melbourne Media.
“This is disappointing and frustrating news for Issy, as she has been working hard to improve her game on and off field.
“Issy will shortly begin her rehab, in an effort to play at VFLW level in April or May, while taking the opportunity to learn and develop her understanding of the game.
“She will also play an important role in supporting her teammates during the week and on game day.”
With Simmons unavailable for the season’s entirety, she has now been placed on Melbourne’s inactive list, creating an opportunity for the club to sign a replacement player.
The Demons have acted swiftly in welcoming defender Maeve Chaplin to their squad, informing the 19-year-old of the exciting news on Tuesday.
Chaplin, who plays with great composure and attack, earns her chance after being overlooked across two draft years, benefitting from the additional time in the NAB League.
AFLW list manager Todd Patterson said the signing was reward for her continued effort.
“Maeve is a powerful hybrid defender, who can also play as an inside midfielder,” he told Melbourne Media.
“She has been through the Northern Knights and talent pathway academies. As a result, she has been on our radar since 2020, and was incredibly unlucky not to be drafted.
“It’s a true credit to Maeve’s perseverance and the programs she has been in that she has made it onto an AFLW list, and we are looking forward to the impact she can have this season.”
Chaplin’s arrival completes Melbourne’s 2022 AFLW squad, ahead of the Demons’ campaign kicking off on Saturday.