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AFLW: Cats get claws into four Demons

Geelong has interesting family ties for Mel Hickey - AFLW,Geelong Cats,Melbourne Demons
Geelong has interesting family ties for Mel Hickey

GEELONG’S AFL Women’s team has scored a coup by poaching Melbourne players Mel Hickey, Richelle Cranston, Erin Hoare and Anna Teague. The Cats can officially lock the quartet in from Friday, when the AFLW expansion signing period opens. 

The AFL confirmed the signing period will run until May 21 and also announced players will be rewarded under a four-tier payment system next season. Dollar figures for the four levels, the make-up of the 2019 fixture and other changes to the rules, including how long players can spend with their clubs per week, are yet to be finalised.

“Further discussion between the AFL and the AFLPA will determine actual player payments. This will take place once the 2019 program and associated revenue is confirmed,” said Nicole Livingstone, the AFL’s head of women’s football.

During the expansion signing period, only four players from any one club can transfer to the expansion clubs (Geelong and North Melbourne), unless agreed to by the clubs and the AFL.

The two clubs can approach players, with the players’ 2018 clubs having the right to make a counter-offer. The AFL will need to approve all player movement before a player can be signed.

The order for this year’s NAB AFLW Draft will be confirmed on May 22, with a sign and trade window to run from May 23-June 4 and a free agency period to run from June 4-7.

Hickey, a key position player, is a distant relative of Geelong icon Reg Hickey. The veteran ruptured the ACL in her left knee in the second-last home and away match of the season, against Carlton.

“Obviously my family has an amazing connection to the Cats, and this is a dream come true,” Hickey said.

“While I have always had a love for the Cats, ultimately it is the professionalism, vision and commitment that the club is already displaying that made this decision an easy one.

“I can’t wait to get out on the track with the team for the first season.”

Cranston, who has played for Geelong in the VFLW competition, is a strong, attacking midfielder. The 29-year-old is more than handy around goal and in round one this year, booted three goals against Greater Western Sydney at Casey Fields, including a late one to break a tie and seal the four points for the Demons.

At 194cm, Hoare was the tallest player in the AFLW in 2018. The 28-year-old has a netball background (having played for the Melbourne Vixens and NSW Swifts) and played for Geelong’s VFL team in 2017.

Teague has also played for the Cats’ VFLW team. The 30-year-old ex-basketballer has shown plenty of promise as a key defender.

The Demons confirmed they had signed promising youngster Lily Mithen for 2019. The 20-year-old Mithen is from Geelong and had been linked to the Cats.  

"We are over the moon with the news that Lily will re-sign when the signing period opens," the club’s AFLW talent manager Todd Patterson said.

"She is a fantastic character to have around our club and one of the up and coming midfielders in the competition."

The Cats and North Melbourne (which on Friday can officially confirm its recent recruitment of Western Bulldogs star Emma Kearney) will join Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton, Collingwood, Fremantle, Greater Western Sydney, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs in an expanded NAB AFLW competition in 2019.

Meanwhile, Melbourne has appointed ex-Carlton AFLW boss Damien Keeping as coach its VFLW team, Casey Demons.

Keeping, 45, replaces Colin Garland, who has returned to Tasmania for personal reasons.