Shae Sloane speaks to players during Melbourne's clash against Hawthorn in round four, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

FOR Melbourne's 59-point win over Hawthorn on Friday night, things looked a little different in the coaches' box, but it was the same reliable on-field performance.

Head coach Mick Stinear took a back seat to allow emerging coach, and former Demon, Shae Sloane to take the reins and gain some valuable matchday experience at the helm.

HAWKS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

"It was really great experience for me this week," Sloane said post-game. 

"Being able to learn off Mick obviously, but then being able to do it in a different way today. Learned a lot to take from it and I'm excited to see what comes."

Sloane's playing career didn't quite go to plan, making the move from volleyball to debut in round one of 2019, but unfortunately she injured her ACL before half-time and never made it back onto the field.

But the shift to coaching has served Sloane well, working her way up through the ranks at Melbourne in recent years. Her footy smarts are one thing, but her connection to the group is almost more important as she continues to develop her coaching.

"'Sloaney' is really important to our group," Melbourne vice-captain Tyla Hanks told


"She obviously had a pretty tough career with us and a couple of knee injuries as well. So (she's) really connected to the group already, but she's just grown so much and it was pretty seamless. Like, you wouldn't have really known too much of a difference in our messaging. It kind of doesn't really matter which voice it comes from. 

"But I think everyone wanted to play for 'Sloaney' tonight."

Playing for 'Sloaney' saw the Demons continue their dominant ways, landing a 13th straight win to extend their AFLW record streak.

"(The playing group is) really receptive to everything that we coach, a lot of focuses this week was similar to the week before, and (it was) just a different voice saying that," Sloane said.

Meanwhile, much of Melbourne's on-field performance has been driven by Hanks out of the midfield. Currently in the throes of a career-best season, Hanks is relishing the longer game time and interchange cap.

"With a little bit of extra time in our quarters, and a couple of rule changes, I think it's opening the game up a little bit," Hanks said. 


"I'm finding in that last few minutes of every quarter that once things open up, I can try and use my own skill, and once everyone's a little bit fatigued, hopefully, I can back my fitness and just find a mark and composure for the group."

Averaging 23.7 disposals and seven clearances a game this year, Hanks' ability to generate space at the contest and set up teammates in attack has been immense for Melbourne.

But, unwilling to take too much of the credit, Hanks is enthusiastic to point out the impact of players like Shelley Heath, Paxy Paxman and Kate Hore, who add versatility to Melbourne's midfield group.

"We're pretty used to having a lot of players coming through there, and you've seen 'Heathy' come in, Paxy's back, Kate's doing really well in there. Our method stays the same, and I think we're really good at that," Hanks said.


"Whatever pops up on gameday, we feel like we can problem solve."

Problem solving on the field and experimenting in the coaches' box is something Melbourne can afford to do thanks to the pure dominance the club is enjoying on the scoreboard. 

As their fixture becomes more difficult in the back half of the season, the work the Demons are doing now will prepare them well for the challenges to come in the pursuit of back-to-back flags.