'Diverse and eclectic' candidates in mix for Pies coaching job

COLLINGWOOD has interviewed an "eclectic mix" of candidates for its vacant AFLW senior coaching job, including a former AFL coach.

The Magpies will finish their first round of interviews this week, with a shortlist of two or three people to be invited for a second interview.

The club parted ways with foundation coach Wayne Siekman, who was appointed Carlton's AFLW/VFLW list manager earlier this week, in early April.

Siekman coached the Magpies for three seasons for a 7-14 win-loss record, including 1-6 this year with a squad left decimated by players leaving for expansion clubs.

Collingwood's general manager of women's sport Jane Woodlands-Thompson told womens.afl the search for a coach was well underway.

"It's a really thorough process, but the priority for us is to get it right and not rush it, so we've spent a fair bit of time with the candidates we've brought in," Woodlands-Thompson said.

"It's quite a diverse and eclectic mix, with applicants with AFL senior coach experience, assistant coaches, candidates who have been really successful in the women's space and are looking for the next step up, and everything in between.

"It's really a matter for the panel to decide what's the model of what we want, what's the best fit for us and then getting the right person. It's such a critical role for us."

Woodlands-Thompson said the focus for the new coach would be taking the young Collingwood group to the next stage of development.

"Wayne did such a wonderful job for us in developing those young kids coming through and in talent identification; his program management and organisation were outstanding," she said.

"Some of the girls have had three years' experience now, so we need to take that to another level, to a successful model for winning. We need to look at the weapons we've got and how to mould that into a team.

We're looking for some experience, candidates who have worked in women's footy and can map out sustainable success.

She said informing Siekman his contract would not be renewed was a tough conversation.

"It's never easy, particularly when you have someone so dedicated and passionate, and to be blunt, such a good bloke. Wayne and I got on extremely well and he had the utmost respect of the group. It's hard to make the decision to not continue in that fashion."

After the 2018 season, Collingwood lost six players to other clubs, as well as a further two to retirement. Throw in a season-long Lisfranc injury to Chloe Molloy, and the Pies had just two of their top 10 players available for 2019.

By contrast, just two players – Darcy Guttridge (St Kilda) and Iilish Ross (Richmond) – left during the recently completed Trade and Signing Period, with Cecilia McIntosh retiring.

"It's all part of us creating a culture and a place where people would feel connected with and want to stay. We were super-stoked with who we managed to retain," Woodlands-Thompson said.

"Then, of course, getting Bri Davey (pictured above) in was the icing on the cake."

The Carlton skipper and dual best and fairest made the move to the Magpies for a bag of draft picks, including the No. 2 selection in October’s NAB AFLW Draft.

"She's such a remarkable young lady. Collingwood has been keen on Bri for a number of years … I think that's quite well documented. She's been a Collingwood fan for most of her life before AFLW came in, so it's nice in a number of ways," Woodlands-Thompson said.

"Timing is everything, so we were really respectful of her involvement in finals and then when the opportunity came to talk, we had a really good chat with her.

"I was so impressed by the maturity and the questions she asked around culture. It was never about money or conditions, it was about what sort of place we have and what our plans for the future are. Maturity beyond her years and her talent and performance speak for themselves."

Woodlands-Thompson joined club late last October and has overseen a significant restructure in how its women's programs – both football and netball – are run, particularly focusing on high performance.

"We have four teams across women's sport, which is awesome, and 80-odd athletes," she said.

"It's a matter of getting the structure and process right across the whole of women's sport across the club and plugging where our values and behaviours and high-performance culture will fit, then getting the right people in key senior positions.

"We weren't far off, despite the harshness of that one-and-six (win-loss record). We know there's been lots of measurable improvement.

"We've got great individualised development plans for players and they can see the improvement and where we're headed."