MELBOURNE'S All Australian defender Meg Downie will have some "new friends" in the backline this AFL Women's season.
The Demons lost vice-captain Melissa Hickey and fellow defender Anna Teague to expansion side Geelong, while key back Laura Duyrea was not offered a 2019 contract.
Downie expects Sarah Lampard, who suffered an ACL tear in her right knee last March, to slot back into defence alongside some new faces.
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Key defender Talia Radan crossed from Adelaide during the off-season, while recruits Casey Sherriff, Ashleigh Woodland and rookie Shae Sloane could also play in defence.
"There is a big change in the backline for us this year and it's been awesome," Downie told AFL.com.au.
"We had a camp a few weeks ago (in Sorrento on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula) and that was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other.
"(The club) has brought players on board who absolutely have the right mindset. They're really prepared to apply themselves to the program. They're all ears at the moment and they're taking it on."
Downie is feeling fully refreshed after a footy-free winter, which came about not due to injury, but exhaustion.
"I was managing full-time work (with ANZ Bank as pricing strategy manager) and footy throughout the AFLW season in 2018, so I was pretty exhausted at the end of the season," she said.
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"Mentally, physically and emotionally I was pretty worn down.
"I just needed some time off footy at the end of the AFLW season to refresh and give my body and mind a break.
"I didn't play in the VFLW. I just did my own training and made sure I was fit and strong throughout the off-season. The benefit is I'm raring to go now."
Downie, who turned 30 on January 3, might not be one of the AFLW's high-profile players, but has a strong presence in the competition partly as a result of her work with the AFLPA as a players' representative.
She spoke on behalf of the players at the recent announcement of a new four-year broadcast deal, which will see all AFLW matches shown live on Seven and Foxtel.
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"I've been involved with the AFLPA a little bit, coming together with the AFL to talk about how we can structure the season and off-season in the best way possible for the players," Downie said.
"While we're moving in the right direction with the AFLW, there's still a lot of work to be done.
"We, as a playing group, really need to make sure our biggest concerns are heard, and we work really collaboratively with the AFL.
"It's best we work together as oppose to against each other, because at the end of the day we want the same thing."