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Not yet, Tayla: Lions jump gun in attempt to sign women's ace

Day of bad news and sad news Matt Thompson with Tuesday Footy Feed

THE BRISBANE Lions have been told they’re not yet permitted to contract ace forward Tayla Harris for next season's inaugural AFL women's league.

The Lions late last week trumpeted the signing of the talented player, who has taken up a promotional position with the club.

"No club has the capacity, legally or otherwise, to sign any players at the moment,'' AFL game and market development general manager Simon Lethlean said on the first episode of women’s football podcast Trail Blazers

"There are obviously women we know with strong affiliations with clubs, such as Daisy (Pearce) with Melbourne and Tayla who has worked with AFLQ for a long time and she has just been employed, as far as I understand, by the Brisbane Lions to work as a development officer for female football.

"That's not a bad start, but they certainly can't sign a player to play just yet."

Harris played for the Lions’ women’s team earlier this year and has also represented Melbourne in previous women’s exhibition matches. The 19-year-old high-flying forward – who thrilled fans with a spectacular mark in a game at Etihad Stadium in 2014 – is expected to line up for the Lions against the Demons at the MCG on Sunday.

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Lethlean said the AFL was considering several mechanisms for the selection of players once the competition licences were issued. 

"We're not going to have the pure draft system as with the men's competition. We're just not positioned with the talent pool to do so.

"We want a landscape that's competitive right from the word go, (so) we have to be assigning marquee players or allowing five or six players to be pre-signed for geographical location or career opportunities or whatever it might be. Then they'll probably be state-based drafts to choose from the talent pool, but that's yet to be decided.'' 

Lethlean said the AFL was working steadily towards an announcement of the successful club licences for what will be an eight-to-10 team competition played in February-March next year. 

"(The process) will take as long as it needs to. We'll be putting a recommendation to the AFL executive next week after discussions later this week,'' he said. 

"The clubs are waiting and keen to activate plans and, obviously, girls involved in the system are keen to know too. So, we'll do it as fast as we can, but there's a lot of work to do.” 

Harris poses with Lions' recruit Josh Schache at the Gabba last month. Picture: AFL Media

Key recommendations for the women's competition will be put to the AFL Commission in June or at an earlier special meeting.

"We don't want to stifle the momentum, especially in other areas like Geelong, for instance, which is a big catchment area for the country, and St Kilda in the bayside area and North (Melbourne) and Carlton in the northern corridor. Why stymie it? But at the same time we have to be careful what we end up doing, but we're open to between eight and 10 (teams),'' Lethlean said. 

On differing rules and regulations, Lethlean said: "There will certainly be some tweaks. We've got to deal with the heat in February-March and that would not necessarily (lend itself) to 30-minute quarters.

"There are dimensions of the ground that would suit women's footy better than others and also in the analysis of the games so far, it has been more congested than men's footy. So, we might look at the numbers or the style of play. But I guarantee it won't be disrespectful."

Tayla Harris in full flight for the Demons in last year's women's exhibition match against the Bulldogs, and celebrating with teammate Ellie Blackburn (bottom left). All pictures: AFL Media

Want more women's footy news?

• Meet the future stars of the women's game at the AFL women's football hub

• 2016 women's exhibition games: latest fixture and results