Melbourne veteran and AFLW legend Daisy Pearce is as fit as ever on the eve of a make-or-break season for the Demons.
Having been perennially around the top of the table in past seasons without making an impact in finals, Pearce is confident she can lead Melbourne to a maiden AFLW flag.
With the Dees’ season kicking off on Saturday night in a blockbuster against the Western Bulldogs, Pearce is raring to go after an injury interrupted season in 2021.
“I’m feeling really confident,” Pearce said.
“As soon as we resumed pre season it was full contact and full training. It’s been a normal pre season for me: last year I had to have surgery and rehab and it was a new challenge for me.”
“Now I’m feeling strong and confident in my body and I’m eager to get back out there.”
There’s been plenty of speculation about a fellow member of Pearce’s red and blue forward line, with the off-season recruit of Tayla Harris from Carlton raising many eyebrows.
But the Melbourne skipper has nothing but great words for the tall forward, who she believes is a key to the Dees tasting premiership success for the first time in 2022.
“I’m super pumped, ‘Tay’ has been awesome for our group – she’s brought great energy and enthusiasm and makes our forward line so much better,” Pearce said.
“We’ve missed that big contested presence up forward over the last few years and she’s definitely that. Personally I’ll be playing right near her and I’m excited to run out with her on Saturday night and I just can’t wait to see her get to work.”
If the Demons are to claim a first AFLW trophy in 2022, they’ll have to emulate the Melbourne men, who stormed to a drought-breaking flag in 2021. Although it can put pressure on many teams, Pearce is buoyant having watched people at the club tastes success.
The Dees AFLW outfit will be turning to the men as inspiration for their 2022 campaign, where they’ll look to emulate their 2021 glory.
“I’m very proud of the boys and their success and how they went about it -we’ve drawn inspiration that we can do something like that,” Pearce said.
“We’ve had similar challenges and we’ve seen our own brothers in a sense make real progress in some areas and achieve the ultimate success, so it does make us believe we’re capable of doing that – it also makes us very aware of the amount of work that went into it.”
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But Pearce’s Demons will also need to combat the COVID-19 pandemic once again, as the virus threatens to derail AFLW squads throughout the short season.
Pearce agreed with fellow teammate Libby Birch that the part-time nature of the women’s competition could make her players more likely to contract the coronavirus, and wasn’t certain how the season would pan out.
“There is a greater exposure risk to catching it, we probably don’t have the chance to bunker down in team bubble scenarios as easily as what a professional player or team can,” Pearce said.
Despite this, the Melbourne skipper is adamant her side are doing “everything they can to get the season underway”. And they don’t want to miss out on a round one blockbuster with the Bulldogs, who they rate highly as a fellow flag contender.
“The team we’re looking out for is the Western Bulldogs,” Pearce said.
“We’ve got a genuine little rivalry building as well, they’ve gotten the better of us over the last couple of seasons in some really important games.”
“We know they’re a really tough and exciting outfit, so can’t wait for Saturday night.”
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