MELBOURNE has bolstered its ranks, with the announcement today that ten rising stars have recommitted to the red and blue. 

Alyssa Bannan and Shelley Heath have committed until at least the end of 2027, while Georgia Campbell, Eden Zanker, Olivia Purcell and Eliza McNamara will wear red and blue until at least the end of 2025.  

Tahlia Gillard, Maeve Chaplin, Georgia Gall, and Megan Fitzsimon have all put pen to paper and will remain Dees until at least the end of 2024. 

Melbourne AFLW List Manager, Todd Patterson, spoke highly of the emerging group and the impact they have already had, so early in their careers. 

“It’s fantastic to finish off the signing period with such a significant group of emerging talents. Whilst many of these players are already well established, we see continued growth in them that will drive the performance of our side moving forward,” Patterson said. 

“Every single one of these players have shown they have what it takes to play at the level and their commitment, along with the rest of the group, to return and work together to get back towards our ultimate goal gives us great energy.” 

Bannan was selected with Melbourne’s first pick (No. 5) in the 2020 AFLW Draft, and has quickly made her name as one of the most dangerous forwards in the league. 

Bannan is most well-known for her stunning runs though the centre or along the wing, with her incredible pace a standout. In season 2023, she played all twelve games and kicked thirteen goals.  

Heath, who signed a four-year deal alongside Bannan, is one of the most underrated players in the league, with the diminutive force playing a key role in the Demons’ powerhouse midfield.  

Drafted in 2018 and making her debut the following season, Heath is the beating heart of the team. She averaged eleven disposals and six tackles per game, and the defensive beast even managed two goals in season 2023.   

Zanker, who became the first player in AFLW history to kick twenty goals in a season, has signed a two-year deal with the Dees. 

Zanker first joined Melbourne as No.6 in the 2017 AFLW Draft, with the Demons’ first pick. At only 24, she has already played seven seasons and become one of the most accomplished forwards in the competition.  

In 2023, Zanker averaged eleven disposals a game, kicked 23 goals, and finished the year as leading goalkicker alongside Kate Hore and with a place in the All-Australian team.  

Fans will continue to see the development of young gun Gillard, after she signed a one-year contract with Melbourne. 

First drafted in 2021, Gillard had a breakout season in 2023 and cemented herself as a dangerous key defender.    

Averaging a career-high 5.5 intercepts and five spoils (second highest average in the league), Gillard was rewarded with a place in the AFLPA 22-under-22 team, and a debut spot in the All-Australian Squad. 

Patterson spoke of the importance of retaining Melbourne’s rising stars and reinforcing the list for future sustainable growth.  

“Clubs go into these periods with calculated and well-thought-out plans, and we have been no different,” he said. 

“This period will set us up to settle our core group, bring in exciting talent and give us opportunities moving forward.” 

This group of young stars join an existing group of thirteen players who announced their re-signing before the AFLW Draft on Monday 18 December.