With pick No.96, Richmond selects ... its own recruiter

WITH the final pick of its first ever NAB AFL Women's Draft, Richmond selected its recruiter Lauren Tesoriero.

To say it was an unexpected call would be an understatement. It was made even more unusual by the tough midfielder having suffered a serious knee injury in June.

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She ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament, an injury she had suffered to the same knee previously, and also damaged her medial co-lateral ligament.

AFLW Tigers recruit... their recruiter? Tesoriero's unusual draft path

00:22 Oct 22. 2019. 3:10 PM

Richmond's recruiting department selects one from its own staff list with Lauren Tesoriero taken at pick No.96

That was supposed to end her dreams of returning to the AFLW ranks, after previously having spent two years at Collingwood.

Instead, a fortnight after going down in Darwin while playing for the Tigers' VFLW side, Tesoriero called Richmond's head of women's football Kate Sheahan with a proposition:

"What would you say if I wanted to have a crack at doing this without an ACL?"

It seems an unthinkable proposition. Tesoriero would skip the operation, and the year-long rehab period that usually follows, in a bid to be part of Richmond's foray into the elite level.  

Lauren Tesoriero played for Richmond's VFLW side this year

As Sheahan told womens.afl, "She literally has a completely ruptured ACL".

Nevertheless, Sheahan was in.

"I'm her biggest fan. I played with her at Collingwood, I know the value she brings to our playing group, she makes a lot of our midfielders a hell of a lot better, even though they're a talented bunch, and so I said 'I back you fully'," Sheahan said.

Tesoriero needed to prove her fitness and did so in a gruelling testing session on the Friday before Tuesday's NAB AFLW Draft, when she was picked at No.96.

"We essentially got all the information out on the table and made an educated choice of whether this was an appropriate choice for the athlete, that being Lauren, and for her future, and could it be done," Sheahan said.

"There's no-one in our squad we think could get through that and get back on to a list. Lauren's the one that's going to do it."

Lauren Tesoriero (right) in action for Collingwood in 2018


A recruiter picking herself is obviously fraught with conflict, and Sheahan said Tesoriero wasn't involved in making the call.

"Technically she removed herself from the decision but (coach) Tom Hunter and myself, in conjunction with (football manager) Neil Balme, who's been across everything we've done, decided that if we could get her to a certain point (Tesoriero could be recruited)," Sheahan said.

The aim, as ridiculous a proposition as it seemed in the days after she went down, is to be on the park in round one next year.

"She's going to do this without the surgery. Very unconventional, and that's why it is a risk, but it's a risk that she's prepared to take and it's a risk that we're prepared to take," Sheahan said.