MELBOURNE has wrapped a busy AFL Women’s Sign and Trade Period, locking in 23 players for the 2021 season.
Captain Daisy Pearce heads up the mass signing, having committed for her fourth season, while vice-captain Karen Paxman and 2020 Best and Fairest winner Shelley Scott are also set to go again.
Paxman and Scott join key forward Tegan Cunningham, ruck Lauren Pearce and defenders Meg Downie and Sarah Lampard in those who were already secured for 2021, signing two-year deals ahead of the 2020 season.
Nine Demons have put pen to paper on fresh two-year contracts, that will see them remain in the red and blue until at least the end of 2022.
Reliable midfielder Lily Mithen and lockdown defender Libby Birch are both locked in, alongside exciting talents Tyla Hanks, Eden Zanker, Casey Sherriff, Chantel Emonson and Shelley Heath.
Former Blue Maddi Gay and Goal of the Year winner Kate Hore have also signed on.
“It's fantastic to have the quality of players and people that we have had recommit for 2021,” AFLW List Manager Todd Patterson told Melbourne Media.
“To also have the opportunity to extend a good chunk of our core group of players until 2022 will place us in a strong position moving forward.
“This commitment allows us to build some stability and strength in our group, for next year and beyond.”
Melbourne has also retained seven further players on one-year deals, including all four of last year’s draftees.
Jackie Parry, Gabby Colvin, Brenna Tarrant and Krstel Petrevski will run out for their second season with the Dees, while Irish recruits Niamh McEvoy and Sinead Goldrick will return to Melbourne for 2021.
Shae Sloane has also secured a one-year deal, as she works through her rehab from an ACL injury.
“To have the Dublin girls put their hands up and say they want to come back due to unfinished business is another great sign for us,” Patterson said.
“They had every right in the current climate not to recommit, but them doing so is a great reflection on what the group means to them and how the club looked after them.
“They will not be joining us until after their Dublin Gaelic campaign, which of course we will be tuning in to and supporting from afar.
“We thank Mick Bohan and the management at Dublin for their support. Our ongoing relationship with everyone at Dublin remains in a really good spot.”
The Demons will now turn their attention to the AFL Women’s Draft, having made some big moves throughout the Sign and Trade Period.
Melbourne achieved its aim of securing pick No.3 in the Victorian Draft, and with a wealth of selections under its belt, is well-equipped to bring in some fresh faces.
“We came into this period with a very well-thought-out plan as to how we take this team forward, to ensure we remain a contender in the short term and for years to come,” Patterson said.
“We are really pleased that we have been able to execute step one of the plan, and look forward to drafting appropriately later this year.”
Players committed for 2021
1. Tegan Cunningham
2. Meg Downie
3. Maddi Gay
4. Karen Paxman
6. Daisy Pearce
8. Sarah Lampard
9. Libby Birch
10. Kate Hore
11. Chantel Emonson
12. Shelley Scott
14. Lily Mithen
15. Lauren Pearce
17. Niamh McEvoy
18. Casey Sherriff
19. Jackie Parry
20. Brenna Tarrant
23. Sinead Goldrick
26. Shae Sloane
28. Tyla Hanks
29. Eden Zanker
30. Shelley Heath
31. Krstel Petrevski
32. Gabby Colvin