Eagles ready to impress in debut AFLW season

GEELONG qualified for finals in its first AFLW season, while North Melbourne fell just short in the tougher Conference A. 

Now, new side West Coast is aiming to match it with the rest in its first AFLW season in 2020.

"Obviously we respect the competition and the sides who have been in the competition for three seasons now," Eagles coach Luke Dwyer said.

"But we're looking at really being a consistent and competitive side. We feel like we're really well planned coming into our first pre-season, from a training structure, from a staffing structure, from a resource structure point of view.

"We expect the competition's going to be a really high level, but our efforts are all based around consistency and being a competitive team."

Fellow new clubs St Kilda and Richmond have had most of their squad playing together in the VFLW, while most of Gold Coast's team played a handful of games against Brisbane in the QW Winter Series.

By contrast, West Coast's first opportunity to play together will be in a yet-to-be-determined pre-season match. 

"There's some difficulties around preparing the team, because we haven't had them playing as a group this season," Dwyer said.

"Our pre-season will be strongly based around getting the girls conditioned, allowing their skills to flourish in training.

"But also, we'll be able to get some match simulation into them over pre-season, which allows them a really good look at what our side – and the best balance for our side – going into the first pre-season game."

One of the most hotly anticipated matches in the fixture is the first AFLW western derby against cross-town rivals Fremantle, which will be played in round two.

"There'll be a lot of rivalry with all the teams we come up against. Being a two-team town, yes, there's certainly a bit more of a heightened rivalry around Fremantle, probably too on the back of us selecting eight of their players in the sign and trade period," Dwyer said.

"We'll treat it like it's another game, it's round two for us. It's our first home game, which is an exciting one for the football club. Given it's going to be at Optus Stadium too, there'll be a lot of excitement around that fixture."

DWYER ON:

  • Young star Mikayla Bowen:

"Mikayla's a ripper. She's played obviously for WA (at under-18 level) and for Swan Districts in the WAFLW. She's a player who works really hard at improving herself. She's fit, she knows she's got areas of her game she wants to work on. We were really excited to sign her as a 17-year-old earlier this season. It's been fantastic to see the way she's played her season at Swans, but also leading the way for WA at the national carnival. We're really excited to see how she comes on in an AFLW environment."

  • Draftee Sophie McDonald:

"We rate her really highly. She's from Albany, from a dairy farm, and has a hockey/athletics background. We've seen a huge amount of growth in her football over a short period of time this season. We were really keen to add her to our list. She's a dynamic player, she's athletic and she's picked up the game really quickly."

  • Ex-Docker Parris Laurie:

"A really athletic type. She will play in the ruck, she played some fantastic football in the ruck in the season just gone. She may also push forward at times, she's got a really good aerobic base. Certainly, we see her as a really versatile player."