COACH MOVES: Club champion joins Blues' coaching panel

A SENIOR coach is only as good as the support provided by their assistants.

Who's helping behind the scenes at your club ahead of the 2021 season?

INS, OUTS, TRADES, DRAFTEES, ROOKIES Every club's complete list for 2021

This piece will be updated as clubs announce their coaching panels.

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ADELAIDE

There have been two additions to the Crows' coaching panel, with club legend Andrew McLeod no longer in a position to assist Matthew Clarke.

Another club champion Scott Thompson (previously a development coach at Port Adelaide) will now mentor the midfield, alongside long-term assistant coach Narelle Smith.

Adelaide AFL forward Tom Lynch is taking charge of the forward line, while Peter Caven will once again lead the defence.

Scott Thompson with Tom Lynch back in 2013 after a round seven match between the Giants and the Crows. Picture: AFL Photos

CARLTON

The Blues have made several changes for their third season under senior coach Daniel Harford

Club champion Kade Simpson will be a key addition to the team, taking over the forward line from Brad Fisher, who has stepped away due to personal commitments. 

The Blues have also appointed former Western Bulldogs player Lauren Morecroft as midfield coach, replacing former VFLW coach and senior assistant Shannon McFerron

Wayne Schultz has replaced Adam Dancey as AFLW skill acquisition coach, while former Port Adelaide player Stephen Salopek remains in charge of the backline. 

The club has appointed a new VFLW coach, with Luke O'Shannessy replacing Paul Griffiths

O'Shannessy has been the NAB League female talent pathways coach at the Oakleigh Chargers since 2016. His VFLW assistants will be Tom Stafford and Marie Napoli.

COLLINGWOOD

The Magpies have pulled off a considerable coup, landing former North Melbourne coach Scott Gowans as a senior assistant. He will also be in charge of the midfield and ball movement.

Another new face working with head coach Steve Symonds is James Debono, who has coached around the country over a 10-year period. Debono will lead the forwards and also focus on strength and conditioning.

Collingwood Magpies player Jordan Roughead will return for another season, this time as the defensive assistant coach. Roughead has long been involved in the AFLW space (previously at the Western Bulldogs), and will take the step up from development coach.

Chloe McMillan, now in her fourth year at the club, will be an AFLW development coach and lead the club's VFLW side.

Scott Gowans addresses the North Melbourne team during the 2020 semi-final. Picture: AFL Photos

GEELONG

The Cats will have three different line coaches to work with Paul Hood in 2021, although one is a returning face.

Senior assistant and VFLW coach Nat Wood was made redundant due to a COVID-related restructure (and has since found her way to the Western Bulldogs), meaning Daniel Lowther will now take charge of the midfield. Lowther was previously an analyst for the club's AFL side and is a former Cat himself.

Josh Finch has been promoted from development to backline coach, with Tom Stewart to take a back seat after the birth of his first child. Stewart will continue to provide support on an occasional basis.

Former Roo and Cat Aaron Black has returned as forwards coach after a year off for his young family, replacing his former teammate Scott Thompson.

MELBOURNE

There have been minimal changes to Melbourne's coaching line-up under Mick Stinear, now coming into his fifth AFLW season.

Jane Lange remains as senior assistant, and will also look after the forwards, Peter Mercoulia has shifted focus from the forwards to the engine room, while former Dee Pat McKenna continues as backline coach.

Fresh off having seven of her Sandringham Dragons charges drafted, Tamara Hyett joins as the development coach for the midfield as the sole new face at Melbourne.

Brooke Patterson (defence), Justin Crough (rucks and stoppages) and Jon Stinear (forwards, as well as runner) round out the development coaching ranks.

Mercoulia will also coach VFLW side Casey Demons, taking over from Damien Keeping, and will be supported by Patterson and Hyett.

Jane Lange chats with Pat McKenna during a Demons training session in 2018. Picture: AFL Photos

NORTH MELBOURNE

Darren Crocker won't be the only new addition to North Melbourne's AFLW program for the 2021 season.

With former midfield assistant coach Lauren Morecroft moving to Carlton, the Roos have appointed another ex-Western Bulldogs player in Brad Murphy to fill the position. 

He has previously been an assistant coach at Calder Cannons, with senior stints at Melton and St Albans.

Former Essendon VFLW vice-captain and stoppage coach Natasha Hardy has joined the club as AFLW development and VFLW assistant coach, having also coached at Sunbury Lions.

Marcus Abney-Hastings, who led NAB League girls' side Northern Knights to a flag last year, had been named VFLW coach, but two weeks later chose instead to become an AFLW assistant with the Bulldogs.

The Roos have said they are currently searching for a replacement.

List manager Rhys Harwood will now also take charge of the backline, while Brett Gourley will remain as forwards coach and Cheyne Webster as development coach.

WEST COAST

New senior coach Daniel Pratt will be supported by an experienced AFLW coaching panel.

Michelle Cowan will once again take charge of the forwards, along with Jo Beechey.

Another ex-Docker in Brady Grey will work with the midfield, as will Ryan Turnbull, while Andrew Di Loreto remains defensive coach.

Michelle Cowan addresses the Eagles' forwards during a game in 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

WESTERN BULLDOGS

The Northern Knights-ification of the Western Bulldogs has continued, signing senior coach Marcus Abney-Hastings as an assistant coach to work alongside Nathan Burke.

The Dogs have drafted heavily from the Knights over the past few years, with Gabby Newton, Jess Fitzgerald, Nell Morris-Dalton and Britney Gutknecht having all come through the NAB League club.

Abney-Hastings had taken up a position as North Melbourne's VFLW coach but crossed to VU Whitten Oval a few weeks later.

The Dogs had previously announced former Geelong senior assistant Nat Wood would be joining the coaching ranks, while former AFL player Jack Fitzpatrick will once again be a line coach.

Andrew Shakespeare remains as the side's development/skill acquisition coach, returning for a fourth season.