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AFLW: Cats, Roos land big fish as '19 lists take shape

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The expansion signing period for AFL Women’s clubs Geelong and North Melbourne ended on Monday night as it began, with confirmation of another haul of big-name players.

North Melbourne officially announced the addition of Brisbane midfielder Kaitlyn Ashmore and Collingwood duo Moana Hope and Emma King, while Geelong pounced on Greater Western Sydney forwards Phoebe McWilliams and Maddie Boyd.

Melbourne star Karen Paxman has re-signed with the Demons, after choosing not to accept an offer made by an expansion club.

Geelong and North Melbourne were able to approach any AFLW player, as all were out of contract at the conclusion of the 2018 season.

The player's club then had the right to make a counter-offer.

If the player chose to stay with their original club, they could be signed immediately, rather than wait for the sign and trade period for the eight foundation clubs (May 23-June 4). Adelaide re-signed Ebony Marinoff last week using that rule.

Ashmore is from Ballarat and has played most of her club footy with Melbourne University, the Kangaroos' aligned VFL Women's side.

The 26-year-old signed with Brisbane in 2016 as a priority player and played all 16 games for the club over the 2017 and 2018 seasons, including two losing Grand Finals.

Hope and King were signed to Collingwood in 2016 as marquee players.

King, 23, was drafted from West Australian club Coastal Titans and named All Australian ruck in 2017. She didn't quite reach the same heights this year but is still regarded as one of the strongest rucks in the competition.

Hope is the third Collingwood forward to move to the Kangaroos, following Jasmine Garner and Jess Duffin. The 30-year-old has kicked 15 goals in 13 matches in two seasons and led the club in score involvements this season (27).

Geelong has significantly strengthened its forward line with the additions of McWilliams and Boyd.

Victorian-born McWilliams signed as a priority player with the Giants in 2016 and played all 14 games, averaging a goal a game.

Boyd will be playing for her third AFLW side, after lining up with Melbourne and GWS and now returning to her native Geelong.

The lists for Geelong and North Melbourne have now taken significant shape, with the Cats signing 13 and the Kangaroos 17 (see full lists below).

Both teams are now able to sign non-AFLW players at any time up until the draft.

Geelong's signings

Geelong had already announced Melbourne quartet Melissa HickeyRichelle CranstonAnna Teague and Erin Hoare as inaugural players.

On Friday, the Cats signed Western Bulldogs premiership ruck Aasta O'Connor.

The 30-year-old has played with Hickey and Geelong assistant coach Natalie Wood at VFLW club Darebin.

She will play out this winter season with the Falcons before committing to Geelong for the 2019 AFLW and VFLW seasons.

The Cats have also added six locals who have played for the club's VFLW side.

Key defender Rebecca Goring has captained the Cats for the past two seasons, while the similarly-named Renee Garing is an inside midfielder and former netballer.

Instinctive forward Danielle Orr's brother is North Melbourne's Shaun Higgins, and Cassie Blakeway has made the move from representing Victoria in junior softball to the midfield.

Kate Darby (key forward but capable of playing in defence) and Jordan Ivey (forward/midfielder) both played for Carlton in the first AFLW season. Ivey is currently recovering from a knee reconstruction and is expected to return to the filed around July.

North Melbourne's signings

North Melbourne landed the biggest fish of all, convincing 2018 competition best and fairest Emma Kearney to cross from the Western Bulldogs.

The Kangaroos' list is now starting to flesh out, with the club having targeted a few players each from most clubs.

Highly-skilled Collingwood duo Jasmine Garner and Jess Duffin headline the signings. Garner is regarded as one of the strongest-marking forwards in the competition, while Duffin is more than capable of playing forward or back.

The Roos convinced Brisbane quartet Ashmore, Jamie Stanton, Tahlia Randall and Brittany Gibson to make the move south.

Stanton was a much-improved player this year, running off half-back and through the middle, while the 19-year-old Randall was a NAB AFLW Rising Star nominee for her work in the ruck.

Part of North Melbourne's bid for an AFLW team was a commitment to develop women's footy in Tasmania, and part of that was behind the signings of 26-year-old Gibson who hails from Burnie, as well as young Bulldog and Launceston native Daria Bannister.

Bannister is recovering from a torn ACL in her left knee suffered in round one of the AFLW season.

Maddison Smith joins the Roos as another Tasmanian signing. The forward plays for Clarence in the Tasmanian State League Women's competition. She booted nine goals in her only game this season

Joining them are Carlton defenders Kate Gillespie-Jones and Danielle Hardiman, as well as Western Bulldogs premiership midfielder Jenna Bruton.

On Wednesday, North Melbourne signed three open-aged players: Elisha KingGeorgia Nanscawen and Ashleigh Riddell.

King, 18, is from North Cairns and was an under-18 All-Australian winger. Swan Districts' Nanscawen is a former Hockeyroo, while midfielder Riddell is captain of VFLW side Melbourne University.

The rules

North Melbourne and Geelong could not take any more than four players between them from each existing AFLW club – Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton, Collingwood, Fremantle, GWS, Melbourne and Western Bulldogs – unless agreed to by both the club in question and the AFL.

With all AFLW players out of contract, AFLW clubs had the right to counter any offer put forward by either North Melbourne or Geelong to a player who was on their list in 2018.

The AFL had to agree to any player movement before it is made official.

No compensation terms have been announced by the AFL to clubs which have lost players to expansion teams, although the draft order will be released on May 22.

Some form of compensation may be worked into the draft order or the number of draft picks given to a club.

Open-aged signings (players who weren't on an AFLW list in 2018) must have been aged 18 as of January 1 this year. Clubs can sign open-aged players until the NAB AFLW Draft period.

The remaining eight AFLW sides have their own sign and trade period, from May 23-June 4 and can re-sign up to 23 of the 30 players listed this year.  

GEELONG'S CONFIRMED SIGNINGS
Cassie Blakeway (Geelong VFLW, open-aged signing), midfielder
Maddie Boyd (GWS), forward
Richelle Cranston (Melbourne), forward/midfielder
Kate Darby (Geelong VFLW, open-aged signing), forward
Renee Garing (Geelong VFLW, open-aged signing), midfielder
Rebecca Goring (Geelong VFLW, open-aged signing), defender
Melissa Hickey (Melbourne), defender
Erin Hoare (Melbourne), ruck
Jordan Ivey (Geelong VFLW, open-aged signing), forward/midfielder
Phoebe McWilliams (GWS), forward
Aasta O'Connor (Western Bulldogs), ruck/key position
Danielle Orr (Geelong VFLW, open-aged signing), forward
Anna Teague (Melbourne), defender 

NORTH MELBOURNE'S CONFIRMED SIGNINGS
Kaitlyn Ashmore (Brisbane), forward/midfielder
Daria Bannister (Western Bulldogs), forward
Jenna Bruton (Western Bulldogs), midfielder
Jess Duffin (nee Cameron, Collingwood), forward/defender
Jasmine Garner (Collingwood), forward
Brittany Gibson (Brisbane), forward
Kate Gillespie-Jones (Carlton), defender/ruck
Danielle Hardiman (Carlton), defender
Moana Hope (Collingwood), forward
Emma Kearney (Western Bulldogs), midfielder
Elisha King (North Cairns, open-aged signing), midfielder
Emma King (Collingwood), ruck
Georgia Nanscawen (Swan Districts, open-aged signing), former Hockeyroo
Tahlia Randall (Brisbane), ruck
Ashleigh Riddell (Melbourne Uni, open-aged signing), midfielder
Maddison Smith (Clarence Tasmania, open-aged signing), forward
Jamie Stanton (Brisbane), midfielder/half-back