Brooke Sheridan handballs during North Melbourne's clash against Box Hill in round five of VFLW on April 20, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

ESSENDON has signed Brooke Sheridan ahead of the 2024 season, replacing retiring winger Catherine Phillips.

Sheridan, a 170cm forward, spent last season on Brisbane's AFLW list as a replacement signing but was ultimately delisted without making her debut.

Initially missing her draft year of 2022 with an ACL injury, Sheridan developed her skills as a junior through the Lions Academy and represented Queensland's state side in both 2021 and 2023.

Since joining North Melbourne in VFLW this year, she has gone from strength to strength, offering a dangerous presence in attack.

She gets her second opportunity at AFLW level with the retirement of inaugural AFLW player Phillips, who played 54 games across three clubs.

Originally signed as a cross-code rookie, after representing Australia in Ultimate Frisbee, she was part of Melbourne's maiden AFLW side. Phillips spent three seasons with the Demons before moving to St Kilda in 2020 and was named the club's inaugural co-captain.

Catherine Phillips in action during Essendon's clash against Sydney in round eight, S7. Picture: AFL Photos

Amid the final round of expansion, Phillips moved once more to Essendon, where she played all 10 games in the side's first season. Phillips was listed as inactive last year to give birth to her first child Cooper.

Her impact spans further than her on-field exploits, serving on the AFLPA board and playing a big part in last year's historic joint CBA between both AFLW and AFL players.

"It has been an incredible privilege being involved in the AFLW from the start and having the opportunity to contribute to three different clubs in their inaugural seasons. I've learnt so much and have had the honour of playing with and against many women who will be remembered as pioneers of the AFLW," Phillips said.

"On top of my playing experience, serving as a delegate and a board member for the AFLPA has been extremely fulfilling, particularly contributing to the historic joint CBA and a step change in women's football. It feels like the right time now to step away from playing AFLW and to instead be a fan as young girls around the country keep lifting women's sport to new heights."

The official AFLW pre-season begins on June 3, with the season to launch in the last week of August. Essendon, which made finals last year, will be looking to improve on that record once again.