FORMER Gold Coast captain Sam Virgo will be acting Port Adelaide AFLW coach as Lauren Arnell goes on parental leave.

Arnell is due to give birth to her first child with wife Lexi in January, having coached out the recent season while pregnant.

Virgo joined Port Adelaide as an assistant coach ahead of the 2023 season, and has previously led Queensland's under-17 boys side during a COVID-affected 2021, and been an assistant coach with Coorparoo men's team in the QFA.

The 36-year-old played for both Brisbane and the Suns, overlapping with Arnell's playing career at the Lions for one year in 2019.

She is expected to lead the Power until at least the early stages of the AFLW pre-season (roughly late May-early June).

"Sam has shown dedication and commitment to our playing group and has developed strong relationships within the program in a short space of time," Arnell said. 


"She is a respected coach and leader and I am confident the program will be in capable hands with her while I take a break."

It's not the first time an assistant coach has taken the reins for an extended period of time in the AFLW, with Nick Davis performing a similar role at Sydney while Scott Gowans underwent treatment for prostate cancer earlier this year.

Port Adelaide will be looking for at least two new coaches to work with Arnell next year, as well as conducting a search for a new head of women's football after Juliet Haslam stepped down due to health reasons.

Cam Sutcliffe has moved into Port Adelaide's men's program, while fellow assistant coach Daniel Caire has left the club.


Troy Wilkey, this year's AFLW runner, will move into a development coaching role after the departure of Dave Reynolds.

"Congratulations to Cam, who has been given an opportunity to work within our AFL program," club football boss Chris Davies said. 

"I also want to thank Daniel and Dave for their commitment to our program over the past two years.  

"They have both balanced full-time employment with coaching at Port Adelaide, and we are grateful for their involvement. All three are great people and will be missed by our AFLW group."