Daisy Pearce during Geelong's match simulation against Hawthorn on February 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

MELBOURNE great Daisy Pearce will return to the AFLW as head coach of West Coast, with the Eagles labelling the move "one of the biggest recruiting coups" in the club's history.

Pearce, who retired from playing at the start of this year, has since moved into coaching as an assistant with Geelong's men's team.

But she'll now depart the Cats and head to Perth to take the reins of the Eagles, who sacked Michael Prior as coach in October.

Pearce has a connection with Michelle Cowan, the Head of Women's Football at the Eagles, from their days together at the Demons prior the launch of the full AFLW competition.

Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce and coach Mick Stinear lift up the premiership cup after winning the AFLW S7 Grand Final against Brisbane at Brighton Homes Arena. Picture: AFL Photos

"The decision to leave Geelong was a difficult one and I want to thank the club for everything they have done for me over the last twelve months," Pearce said.

"In a short time I learnt an enormous amount and have been surrounded by colleagues who I admire and feel so fortunate to have worked with.

"I'm grateful for the confidence Michelle, Trevor and the team have shown in appointing me for this incredible opportunity. I'm excited to be a senior coach, particularly with this young Eagles team that has so much upside.

"It has come at the right time for me and this a role and a move that my family and I are going to embrace.

Daisy Pearce and Isaac Smith during the match between the Western Bulldogs and Geelong in June, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"I feel a great sense of responsibility for shaping the right environment and adding to the good foundations that are already here to develop this emerging list of players. I can't wait to get started by playing a role during the remainder of the sign and trade period and at next week's draft."

The Cats lamented Pearce's departure but praised her contribution in her time at the club.

"While we're disappointed to lose Daisy from our AFL program, we understand the significance of this opportunity, and wish her every success in her new role with the Eagles," Geelong footy boss Andrew Mackie said.

"When Daisy joined the club through the Coaching Acceleration program, it was to fast-track her development and expand her existing skills and knowledge, whilst giving greater insight into the workings of a football department as a coach, and the program has delivered just that.


"This is just the next step in what looks set to be a long, exciting journey for Daisy in the AFL and AFLW coaching space, and we were thrilled to have been part of the start of that journey."

Pearce retired from playing in January after 55 AFLW games and countless more in the state league. Her final match as a player was Melbourne's Grand Final triumph against Brisbane.

A three-time All-Australian and three-time club best-and-fairest, Pearce was voted the AFLPA AFLW best captain on four occasions.

West Coast was one of four clubs on the hunt for a new W head coach along with Collingwood, Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs, who all parted ways with their coach at the end of the season.

"We are obviously thrilled to have someone of Daisy's standing joining our club," CEO Trevor Nisbett said in a statement.


"This is a tremendous fillip for our women's program and she comes to us at an ideal time to assist in the growth and development of our team.

"Daisy's record speaks for itself and she has all the credentials required to help our young squad achieve their undoubted potential. I know our players will be absolutely delighted with this appointment.

"While we are thrilled to have her on board, she is equally excited by the opportunity and is keen to get to work as soon as possible in directing the evolution of the squad."

Pearce is the third former AFLW player to take on a head coach role, following in the footsteps of Lauren Arnell and Lisa Webb.