A training camp in Bright has given Demons captain Daisy Pearce her best indication of what star forward Tayla Harris will add to the club this AFLW season.
Ahead of the start of the season – which is scheduled to begin on January 7th – the Dees took the opportunity to head to Bright for a weekend of bonding. The playing group took on the challenges of Mount Buffalo and built on their relationships in Pearce’s childhood area.
The Dees captain – who enters her fifth season with that mantle – said the group enjoyed the experience, which gave them the opportunity to build connections with newcomers Harris and Olivia Purcell.
“[It was] good to get out of the routines of footy training and that kind of thing,” Pearce said at the AFLW fixture launch at Marvel Stadium on Thursday.
“[We] got them up to the country and hiked up a mountain and jumped into a few cold water holes.
“It was good team bonding and we got some pretty physically challenging stuff done as well.”
After a hike up Mount Buffalo on the Saturday, the playing group took time to sit down on Sunday and set goals for their upcoming season.
The addition of Tayla Harris will be instrumental for the club in 2022, having booted 25 goals in 29 games for the Blues in a three-year span.
“It’s not very often someone of her calibre goes up for availability in a trade period,” Pearce said.
“To get her to Melbourne was really exciting. Her and Olivia Purcell have added immediately to our group.”
Still just 24 years of age, Pearce said Harris had acclimatised to the group as well as she could have hoped for over the pre-season, and the job at hand for her was simple for the Dees.
“Tayla’s biggest thing is just her ability to compete in the air and at ground level in our forward line.
“I’ll spend time up there with her and if she just performs that simple role she’ll make us a better side.
“I can’t wait to play with her and couldn’t have been more impressed with the way she’s applied herself and gotten around and tried to fit in and learn a new way with a new club.”
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Melbourne will face rivals the Western Bulldogs in its opening round clash at Whitten Oval, which wasn’t a happy hunting ground for the club last season.
It’s a rivalry that continues to be built upon year on year, with the two foundation clubs of the AFLW sharing a storied history already with the Hampson-Hardeman Cup swapping hands with regularity.
“Given that they were the pioneering clubs at AFL level for women’s footy, there’s a history to it from the Hampson-Hardeman Cup Series, but now in AFLW format there’s a good rivalry developing now,” Pearce told the media.
“I still have nightmares about going out to Whitten Oval last year.
“We all look forward to the challenge and they’re a good measuring stick I feel in the opening game of the season.
“They got the better of us last year, [they’re a] young, very talented side, so [I] can’t wait to play them.”
The Demons and Bulldogs will begin their 2022 AFLW campaigns at Whitten Oval on Saturday, January 8th.
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