'Coach' Daisy gives new Dee a strength lesson

MELBOURNE trade acquisition Maddy Gay has a mentor to assist her tackling a massive task leading into the 2019 NAB AFL Women's season.

Gay is learning from one of the game's elite ball-winners Daisy Pearce in a bid to push into the Demons' classy midfield unit.

Pearce, an assistant coach while she awaits the birth of twins in March, is working with the former Carlton midfielder-forward and other young players during pre-Christmas training sessions at Gosch's Paddock, near the MCG.

"She watches from the side to see how we're holding ourselves up, body position and stuff like that," Gay said.

"That's my main thing, body positioning, and trying to be strong through the hips. During drills, she pulls me aside and suggests things to try.

I still play like a netballer. I was a wing-attack, which means you're light on your feet to go, go, go. Whereas in footy you need to be able to hold your position and get ready to push them off.

"It's all about learning those types of skills. I've played two years of footy and I've still got so much to learn," she said.

"We've got a group of young midfielders learning from the older girls. Daisy is like a first-year coach out there with us."

Gay played every game for the Blues last season. She had a brutal introduction to Melbourne's midfield depth when the Demons crushed Carlton at Ikon Park in round six.

She had an up-close view of her now-teammates' work-rate, with Elise O'Dea (19 possessions), Karen Paxman (15) and Pearce (17) controlling the centre bounces and stoppages for almost the entire contest. And now she is being regularly reminded during pre-Christmas training workouts.

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"Having them in front of you in a drill makes you watch what they do. Not trying to copy, because you want to have your own game, but it's about learning from them," the 22-year-old said.

"At Carlton our main midfield probably had 18 months of footy experience, whereas Melbourne's has years and years.

"Melbourne's midfield is going to be harder to crack, so I've got to work harder and focus on things that will help.   

"I'm fit and ready to go. I'm loving it. It's a lot harder, but I expected that. It's interesting and a challenge and I like to be challenged."

Melbourne was disappointed to miss out on Gay when she was rookie-listed by Carlton in May 2017 (before being promoted to the Blues' primary list for the AFLW's second season).

The Demons made a second attempt when list manager Todd Patterson and coach Mick Stinear contacted the midfield-forward's manager during this year's trade period.

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"They showed their interest again … obviously, Melbourne's list was very appealing," she said.

Gay ended up at Melbourne as part of a three-club deal also involving Collingwood.

Gay has familiar faces on Melbourne's coaching staff – former Blues senior coach Damien Keeping has a development role with VFLW affiliate Casey Demons and ex-Carlton forwards coach Jane Lange is also at the club.

The aspiring midfielder took a three-week break in Greece in late June-early July, returning home to play the last four rounds for Casey in the VFLW competition before joining the Demons' AFLW group that includes former VFLW teammates Kate Hore and Meg Downie, along with an old Sunbury schoolmate Sarah Lampard.

"Sarah and I were in inter-school teams together, like cross-country. She's a great runner and we caught up for a coffee before the trade period, so I could get more of an insight about the club," Gay said.

"It was good to know someone that well."

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