MELBOURNE has secured defender Libby Birch in a trade that will see the departure of Ashleigh Guest to the Western Bulldogs.
Agreeing to terms in the final stages of the AFLW Trade and Sign Period, Birch will wear the red and blue until at least the end of 2021, with the Demons also receiving pick No.77 in the deal.
In conjunction with Guest, the Bulldogs will obtain picks No.8 and 48.
Birch, who arrives with 22 games to her name, is set to provide further depth to Melbourne’s backline.
Known for her athleticism and versatility, AFLW list manager Todd Patterson said the 21-year-old is a much-welcomed addition to the group, as it heads into the fourth year of the competition.
“We’re very excited to have Libby join us for at least the next two seasons,” he told Melbourne Media.
“Given the nature of this expansion period, it’s fantastic that a high-quality player and person in Libby sought to come to the Melbourne Football Club.
“She is a natural athlete and competitor who plays with great confidence, and who we think will become an important member of our group.”
A former netballer, Birch made her debut in the opening round of the 2017 AFLW season and has spent the past three seasons at the Bulldogs.
With a Premiership, Rising Star nomination and All-Australian squad selection under her belt, Patterson said the half-back’s wealth of experience will be of great benefit to the club.
“Libby only started playing footy in 2016 but has achieved significant success in her career so far,” he said.
“We think she’ll bring a fresh perspective to the group and is a great overall fit for Melbourne.”
Guest departs having played 11 games for the Demons, making her debut for the club in 2018.
The 29-year-old, who was initially drafted to Greater Western Sydney in 2016, played four games this past season.
“Guesty has played an important role for our team across the past two years, and we’re pleased that we can give her an opportunity to continue her career elsewhere,” Patterson said.
“We wish her all the best at the Western Bulldogs and thank her for her contribution to Melbourne.”
In further trade news, the Demons have also parted ways with 19-year-old Claudia Whitfort.
Agreeing to a deal with St Kilda on Friday morning, Melbourne will receive picks No.54 and 72, in exchange for the defender and pick No.63.
Whitfort played four games for Melbourne after making her debut in Round 5, 2018.
With the movement period concluding on Friday afternoon, the red and blue have now locked in 23 players for the 2020 AFL Women’s season.