Star Tigers recruit could miss up to three games due to WNBL

STAR Richmond recruit Monique Conti is a chance to miss up to three games in the club's first NAB AFLW season due to the WNBL finals.

Conti, 20, juggles her AFLW commitments alongside her basketball with Melbourne Boomers. 

The top four sides qualify for finals, and the Boomers are currently in third place, four wins clear of Perth in fifth with seven rounds remaining. 

Depending on what position the Boomers finish in, Richmond's round two (1v4 for basketball) and round three (2v3 for basketball) matches are on the same days as the WNBL semi-finals series. 

Richmond's season opener against Carlton is unaffected, with a week's break between the final round of the WNBL and the finals.

The WNBL Grand Final series runs across rounds four and five of the AFLW season. While the matches do not directly clash with Richmond's games over that period, the Tigers are playing in Bendigo and Wagga Wagga the day before the basketball games, meaning travel could be an issue. 

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The silky midfielder is supremely talented, winning the best on ground medal in the 2018 Grand Final at just 18 years old, while playing for the Western Bulldogs. 

After crossing from the Dogs to Richmond in May, Conti lined up for the club's VFLW side, winning the Tigers' best and fairest from just seven matches. 

"There could be [a clash with] finals, and then it just depends on how the Boomers go," Richmond coach Tom Hunter told womens.afl. 

"We're really supportive with Mon's basketball, because we know she's a dual-sport athlete and we want her to do really well. 

"When her Boomers commitments finish up, we'll be able to get her full-time. She's able to balance it, as she has for the past two years with the Dogs. We're just trying to make her the best athlete possible." 

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Richmond have a balancing act of its own at this stage of pre-season, with "seven or eight" players – including fellow big-name recruit Christina Bernardi (foot) – on limited duties. 

AFLW clubs have a list of 30 players, with 21 named for a match (16 on the ground, five on the bench).

"We're not in a dire position, I don't want to say that, but we've got a few girls in the modified group at the moment. We're starting to get them back," Hunter said. 

"We've found with the jump from the NAB League (under-18) girls going into a semi full-time environment probably put a bit of stress on them and some of them we've had to modify.

"I think we've got seven to eight girls we're modifying, but we're looking to have most of them back after the Christmas break."

Hunter has led Richmond's VFLW side for the past two seasons, with the team qualifying for (and losing) an elimination final this year and is enjoying the step up to AFLW level. 

"I'm certainly enjoying having more sessions with the players. We've got more time to educate them, and I'm not feeling rushed in our training, I don't feel we have to get everything in," he said. 

"The standard of our girls has been pretty awesome so far, it's improved a long way and the players are getting the concepts more quickly. We don't have to spend so much time around the education. 

"They get it, they can do it and we can add more layers to the plan. That's been a nice surprise."

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