KATE Hore and Tyla Hanks, the formidable powerhouse of Melbourne’s AFLW side, will again lead the team for a second time in 2024.

Selected by their peers, the playing group were undisputed in their choice to elect Hore and Hanks as captain and vice-captain respectively, for the second time. 

Mick Stinear, Senior Coach, praised the pair and the way the team were united in their decision-making.

“It was an overwhelming response from the group, they were unanimous in support of Kate and Tyla leading the team again," Stinear said. 

The dynamic duo won’t be doing it alone, supported by a senior leadership team made up of Sarah Lampard and Paxy Paxman. 

Stinear spoke highly of Hore, who has continued to elevate her game from season to season.

“As a club, we are fortunate to have someone of her quality. She’s an ultimate professional in how she trains, competes and prepares to bring the best person of herself to the team," Stinear said.

“Kate cares deeply about the program, our people and our club. Her peers are excited and inspired to be led by her this season.”

Playing in all 12 games for the season, Hore averaged 17 disposals, four tackles and three clearances.

The forward also kicked 20 goals, and was named joint leading goal scorer for the home-and-away season with teammate Eden Zanker.

Stinear commended Hanks’ continued growth in confidence and belief, and consistency on field.

“Tyla continues to grow as a senior leader within this program. She offers excellent support for Kate, she brings strong football knowledge, she’s consistent, reliable, and has strong relationships with the whole playing group and staff," Stinear said. 

“As her confidence and belief continue to develop, this manifests in her ability to inspire the people around her. She continues to share her opinion, which makes this program the best it can be.”

Hanks also played in all games for the season, averaging 21 disposals, four tackles and five clearances. She also managed a handy six goals, no mean feat for the midfielder.

The pair were jointly named the winner of the inaugural Daisy Pearce Trophy, Melbourne’s newly renamed Best and Fairest Award, in recognition of their outstanding seasons.

Paxman is a pioneer of the AFLW, being one of the few players remaining in the league who played in the first AFLW exhibition game in 2013.

Mick was pleased to see Paxman once again elevated to the leadership group, and looked forward to seeing the veteran supporting the existing leaders.

“Paxy has always held a senior leadership role at our club. She stood back to allow Kate and Tyla to step into their roles and shine. Her main role in this season is to support, challenge, and assist them in navigating the season," Stinear said. 

 “She also cares deeply and has a strong relationship with the group. She offers different perspectives from her many experiences and balances life well outside of football, which sets a great example for emerging players in the team.”

With 72 career games under her belt, the 35-year-old holds the Melbourne AFLW games record.

She is a two-time Melbourne Best and Fairest winner (2019, 2021) and a five-time All-Australian (including as Captain in 2020).

The defender has previously served as Melbourne vice-captain in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 – a testament to the high-esteem the team holds for her.

One of just four original Dees who has been with the club since the first AFLW Draft in 2016, Lampard is a steadfast defender who has notched up 60 games over eight seasons.

Stinear was pleased to see Lampard elected to the senior leadership group, and praised her development as a mentor.

“Sarah has been a core part of the group since the inception of the competition. She cares deeply, has built strong relationships, and has also built her football to a level where she’s a consistent performer on field," Stinear said. 

“Her teammates look to her for guidance and support. While she’s always been strong from an interpersonal point of view, she has continued to grow in her physicality and contest. Sarah is invested in making the program the best it can be.”

The 26-year-old suffered a season-ending wrist injury in Round 7 of 2023, but successfully underwent surgery on her fracture and will be aiming for full fitness in season 2024. 

Her impact in defence cannot be overstated, with the tough hitter averaging 11 disposals and three tackles per match.

In 2022, Lampard was named as part of the team’s emerging leader’s group, recognising the developing talents in the squad.

Her nine seasons of AFLW experience have made her one of the most respected players at the club, not only due to her on-field performance but also her optimistic outlook off-field.

The quartet will be ably advised by a number of players who offer a wealth of leadership and match experience: Lily Mithen, Tayla Harris, Lauren Pearce, and Rhi Watt, who are all highly respected in the team.

The formidable group are well-known for their elite standards and will hold the group to high benchmarks to ensure that they are prepared to play deep into the AFLW season.