Optimistic coach Chloe trying to ensure history does not repeat

AFTER experiencing just about every emotion over the past few years in the VFLW, Collingwood coach Chloe McMillan is looking forward to the new season and looking to get back to those highest of highest of highs.

Reflecting on last year, McMillan said that “last season was probably a little bit up and down.”

“We had some really good moments from last year and then we had some moments that we’d probably like to have back again,” she said. “We lost a few players through injury, we lost our captain in round 5 and couldn’t quite get the team balance right at times.

“There were plenty of lessons learnt and there was still some really good things that we saw. We saw some players come through and play some good footy and definitely we want to build on last year and take what we learned out of that and bring it into this season.”

McMillan believes that the depth of the side was the main reason that Collingwood were unable to quite reach the highs they had in the 2019 and 2021 season.

“We probably didn’t quite have the depth of what we’ve had previous years as what we did last year and we were interrupted a bit with Covid which everyone was,” McMillan said. “We had injuries to some key players which probably hurt us in not quite having the depth there. We just couldn’t quite get back to the same levels as the last couple of seasons but I think this year we’ve got a pretty healthy squad.

“We’ve got 33 to 34 players on our list and then we’ll be supplemented with some AFLW players that come in in the early rounds. So I think we have some healthy competition for spots and players have improved and we’ve got some new players in, which is exciting to the group as well.”

McMillan confirmed that when it comes to the AFLW players coming in each week, it will more be the younger end of the AFLW list that will get a game in the VFLW, and as the coach put it “to help them get a head start on their preseason”.

Speaking of depth, there are plenty of new faces at Victoria Park in 2023.

“We’ve got I think 14 or 15 new faces which is really exciting,” McMillan said.

“We’ve brought in Jess Bates who’s come over from the SANFL competition who is a really good player from Glenelg, she’s going to complement our midfield players that we’ve got and mix in really well with our midfield group.

“We’ve brought in Riley Christgoergl from the Western Bulldogs, she was their captain and has come in and had a huge impact on our group both on and off the field, and then we’ve bolstered sort of our key ends with Selena Karlson coming back to footy and returning after a long term injury and Eleri Morris who’s come down from Sydney as part of the Giants Academy who is an exciting key forward and we help to see her develop and hopefully put her hand up for AFLW draft and whatever might come with that as well.”

With the AFLW season moving from Summer to Spring, McMillan says it has not changed too much for the VFLW team in terms of preparation for the upcoming season, but she believes it hinders the AFLW team because during the AFLW season there is no team to fall back to for the non-selected players to prove themselves and get back into the AFLW side.

It has been a big year already personally for McMillan, who was lucky enough to be selected in a Coaching Acceleration program and has been working in the Collingwood men’s program.

“It’s been awesome for me as a coach and being able to develop,” she said.

“It’s more getting experience within the men’s program which previously I hadn’t had the option to. I wasn’t able to with the other jobs I was in so now to be able to be exposed full-time, feel like I am a part of that program and learn as much as I can, I still feel like I’ve got so much to learn but I’m already seeing some things transferring across, making the VFLW program the best we can and trying to take little bits and pieces and blend them in and see how we think can help the program.”

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