Roos lock in replacement player for pregnant star

NORTH Melbourne has promoted Vivien Saad to its AFLW list as a replacement player for the pregnant Jess Duffin.

The Kangaroos were initially apprehensive as to whether their request to add to their list would be granted by the AFL, given the cut-off date for inactive players was late October.

All-Australian defender Duffin announced her pregnancy at the end of December.

The 27-year-old Saad, a versatile key with strong hands, came on in leaps and bounds with VFLW side Melbourne Uni in 2019, coming from basketball with very little prior football experience.

Speaking the night before Saad was cleared to play, North Melbourne coach Scott Gowans told the infancy of the competition should work in the club's favour in regard to replacing pregnant players.

The only other player to have sat out a season due to pregnancy is Melbourne superstar Daisy Pearce, who returned to the field on Saturday in a practice match. In that case, Pearce announced she was having twins in May 2018, giving the Dees more leeway in replacing her.

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"We put a very good case together. It's an interesting one and it's a delicate one," Gowans said.

"I don't push the boundaries very much, because I think the rules are the rules and whatever the decision is, we'll abide by, clearly. I just think there are no rules for this. It's a decision the AFL has to make, based on the information we give them and the situation. 

"I get what happened at Melbourne with Daisy is different to what happened to us with Jess. That's absolutely fine, it's just the way it is.

"I think all the coaches are on board – I hope they are, anyway – with the philosophy that it's not a competition that's 100 years old. You can't be rule 103.B, it just can't be like that.

"As the game grows, more things are going to come up, I'm sure there's stuff we haven't even thought of yet. You have to take the bigger picture with some of this stuff, and this is one of those cases where we believe we should get a replacement."