Melissa Hickey, Daniel Harford and Jane Lange. Pictures: AFL Photos

THE DEPARTURE of four AFLW coaches signals a rush of top-flight positions not available since the 2020 and season seven expansion eras.

Jobs are now available at Collingwood, Hawthorn, West Coast and the Western Bulldogs, after Steve Symonds, Bec Goddard, Michael Prior and Nathan Burke all parted ways with their respective clubs.

Prior will remain at the Eagles in a different role and Goddard has indicated she wants to retire from coaching.

Symonds and Burke could also be among those in the mix for other jobs if they wish, although Symonds' family remains in South Australia.


Who are some of the people who could be in the running?

Jane Lange

A highly regarded coach from the Darebin Falcons pathway, Lange was an integral part of Melbourne's success from 2018 to season seven. She was appointed senior assistant in 2020, and has coached an AFLW game herself when Mick Stinear was unavailable. Lange stepped away from the AFLW this year, returning to teaching, and it's understood the job would have to be the right fit for both Lange and her family to come back.

Melbourne AFLW assistant coach Jane Lange during a training session at Gosch's Paddock on November 17, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Trent Cooper

The former Fremantle coach held the reins at the Dockers from 2019 to season seven. He had a highly successful period, but injuries hit Fremantle hard in his final season and the Dockers slid right down the ladder. Currently head of female talent and the coaching specialist for talent pathways (boys and girls) with the West Australian Football Commission. It's understood Cooper is open to a move to the east coast, but he also has a young family.

Trent Cooper addresses his Fremantle players during round 10, season seven, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Daniel Harford

Harford ran the show at Carlton from 2019 to season seven, taking the Blues to a Grand Final in his first season (albeit under the short-lived conference system). He was let go with a year remaining on his contract as Carlton looked to apply a full-time coach, with Harford also juggling breakfast radio. He is now refreshed after a year without coaching commitments and previously played for Hawthorn.

Carlton coach Daniel Harford during its match against Collingwood in season seven of AFLW. Picture: AFL Photos

Melissa Hickey

Spent both 2022 seasons as a line coach at the Western Bulldogs, taking on a full-time role at Geelong Falcons this year, coaching her own team. The former Demon and inaugural Cats skipper also has extensive experience leading Vic Country, bringing together a team from disparate areas around the state.

Melissa Hickey speaks to players during Vic Country's clash against Vic Metro in the under-18 national championships on August 12, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Chloe McMillan

A long-time development and assistant coach, McMillan has been at Collingwood since 2018. She has coached the club's VFLW side for four years and has also been a development coach with the AFL men's side as part of the AFL women's coaching acceleration program. McMillan played herself, prior to the introduction of AFLW.

Chloe McMillan gives instructions during Collingwood's VFLW semi-final against Essendon on July 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Lauren Morecroft

Has won rave reviews for her job with the Eastern Ranges under-18 boys this year, leading the team to a Grand Final. Morecroft was an assistant coach at North Melbourne for two years, switching to Carlton for the 2021 season. Is a former AFLW player, lining up for the Western Bulldogs in the inaugural season, and a teacher by trade.

Eastern Ranges coach Lauren Morecroft looks on during the Coates Talent League Grand Final against Sandringham Dragons on September 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Martine Pearman

The West Australian was in the running for the Fremantle job, which ultimately went to Lisa Webb. Currently an assistant coach with West Coast's AFLW team, she spent the early years of AFLW working under Michelle Cowan at Fremantle and had extensive experience in the WAFLW prior to AFLW.

Martine Pearman addresses players during West Coast's clash against the Western Bulldogs in round 11, 2016. Picture: AFL Photos

Jess Burger

The Collingwood head of footy's name was raised in media reports earlier this week as a possible candidate for her own club, having coached Kew Bears at community level. Burger is on the selection committee for the role, and it would take an extraordinary move from the club to appoint her as coach.

Jess Burger, AFLW Head of Women’s Football & AFLW List Manager/Performance Analyst, Collingwood