Season 8 AFLW preview: Melbourne

REIGNING premiers Melbourne basked in long-awaited premiership glory last season after having a series of so close, yet so far attempts at the AFL Women’s flag. The Demons defeated Brisbbane at Brighton Homes Arena in somewhat of an upset, going one better than their loss to Adelaide the season prior.

Fast forward eight months, and Melbourne is back on a level playing field with the rest of the competition, and premiership favourites heading into the new year. Based off a relatively quiet off-season – which in the expansion times is a good thing – the Demons are ready and raring to launch an assault on another premiership in Season 8.


#1 Georgia Campbell
#2 Olivia Purcell
#3 Maddison Gay
#4 Karen Paxman
#5 Tyla Hanks
#7 Tayla Harris
#8 Sarah Lampard
#9 Libby Birch
#10 Kate Hore
#11 Eliza West
#12 Georgie Fowler
#13 Maeve Chaplin
#14 Lily Mithen
#15 Lauren Pearce
#16 Alyssa Bannan
#17 Tahlia Gillard
#18 Casey Sherriff
#19 Jordan Ivey
#20 Charlotte Wilson
#21 Aimee Mackin
#22 Eliza McNamara
#23 Sinead Goldrick
#24 Megan Fitzsimon
#25 Samantha Johnson*
#26 Rhiannon Watt
#27 Georgia Gall
#29 Eden Zanker
#30 Shelley Heath
#31 Blaithin Mackin
#32 Gabby Colvin
## Saraid Taylor

* inactive list


In: Georgie Fowler, Aimee Mackin, Saraid Taylor, Eliza McNamara (inactive), Rhiannon Watt (inactive), Gabby Colvin (inactive)
Out: Daisy Pearce, Alison Brown, Sabreena Duffy, Ella Little, Maggie Caris, Samantha Johnson (inactive)


Round 1: vs. Collingwood @ Ikon Park
Round 2: vs. GWS GIANTS @ Manuka Oval
Round 3: vs. Western Bulldogs @ Casey Fields
Round 4: vs. Hawthorn @ Kinetic Stadium
Round 5: vs. Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium
Round 6: vs. Adelaide @ Casey Fields
Round 7: vs. West Coast @ Mineral Resources Park
Round 8: vs. North Melbourne @ Ikon Park
Round 9: vs. Fremantle @ Casey Fields
Round 10: vs. Brisbane @ Brighton Homes Arena


  • Premiership-winning list
  • Stars and depth across the park
  • Regain key players from long-term injuries
  • Only one best 21 player lost over the off-season

When Melbourne claimed the Season 7 premiership, many expected opposition clubs to poach top players like what happened with Brisbane, Adelaide and Collingwood. Instead, it was quite the opposite with Melbourne retaining the bulk of its list. By the end of the off-season, only the retirement of club and league legend Daisy Pearce hurt the club from a best 21 perspective, and the Demons were able to retain the remainder of the grand final side.

Not only did the Demons have star quality to win the AFLW premiership, but they had plenty of depth waiting in the wings. The likes of Jordan Ivey and Charlotte Wilson who added depth to the club’s marking stocks at either ends, as well as injured trio Eliza McNamara, Gabby Colvin and Rhiannon Watt all were outside the premiership team and will only strengthen the side heading into Season 8. With the nucleus of the side intact, the Demons will have plenty of pressure on team selection.


  • How will the Dees performed as the “hunted” rather than the “hunter”?
  • How does Mick Stinear fit the likes of McNamara and Colvin back in?

With next to no chinks in the Demons’ armour on paper, Melbourne could very well go back-to-back and few would raise an eyebrow. Externally, the Demons are seen as the team to beat and rightfully so. Perhaps the biggest question will be, now they have achieved the feat they had craved for so long, will they be able to perform at the same level now they are the ‘hunted’ rather than the ‘hunter’? More than likely it will change very little given the discipline of the side, but it will be an interesting side story.

The other question mark is not a negative, but more so a genuine question as to how Mick Stinear and the selection panel fit in the likes of McNamara and Colvin. While the loss of Pearce opens up one spot, that still leaves quite a number of deserving players missing out. It is a good problem to have, but one that makes it tricky with a fully fit list and a few new players coming into the program.


Melbourne skipper Kate Hore is stepping up to take over the reigns from Pearce, but has been a star in her own right for a while now. Getting better each year, Hore has been an ultra-impressive forward-midfielder who has the capacity to kick quite a few goals, or go into the middle and win the ball there. Watch for her to go to another level again in Season 8 as the new captain


Tahlia Gillard was the eye-catcher of the Season 7 AFL Women’s Grand Final, but last season was able establishing herself in the side. Stepping up in the absence of Colvin, Gillard was consistent all season at full-bback and shut down competition leading goalkicker Jesse Wardlaw on the big day. Now expected to retain her spot in the best 21, Gillard is a player who has potential to add more strings to her bow in Season 8.


Melbourne is the safest pick when it comes to premiership contention. With the least amount of best 21 players lost, and greatest amount retained, and a host of genuine talents forcing their way back into the side, the overall top-end talent and depth at the Demons’ disposal is the envy of the competition. If they do not win the flag, they will go very close, so expect them to there when the whips are cracking late in the season.

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