'One of the toughest I've played with': Pearce's praise for Dees draftee

MELBOURNE skipper Daisy Pearce has thrown her support behind the club's new faces after a tumultuous off-season.

The Dees had the busiest trade period of all clubs, trading out six players for draft picks and bringing in six 18-year-olds through the NAB AFLW Draft.

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Three of those draftees – Alyssa Bannan, Eliza McNamara and Megan Fitzsimon – will make their debuts on Saturday against Gold Coast.

They'll form a big part of the Demons' future moving forward, replacing the likes of Elise O'Dea (Carlton), Katherine Smith (GWS), Bianca Jakobsson (St Kilda) and Aliesha Newman (Collingwood).

Megan Fitzsimon greets family and friends after being named for her debut. Picture: melbournefc.com.au

"I've got a soft spot for 'Fitzy'. For six weeks pre-Christmas before we got into any real match play, it was sort of 'is Fitzy here, or is she listening?'," Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce told womens.afl.

"You're just trying to suss out new teammates and what makes each other tick and she was one that I really kind of felt struggled to get a good read on.

"And then the games started and away she went, and I realised she'll be right, 'just go and win the footy, Fitzy, don't worry about all the rest of it'.

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"She knows where to find the ball. She's really predictable to her teammates because she makes good decisions when in traffic, she's just really calm."

McNamara captured the headlines early in pre-season, knocking off All-Australian captain Karen Paxman in the club's time trial.

"A few of the girls were saying, yeah she can run, but she's tiny and she's gonna struggle with the contact stuff," Pearce said.

"And then when the contact started, I mean, do not worry about Eliza McNamara. She's one of the toughest people I've ever played with.

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"She'll get hit, knocked over and bounces straight back up and does not flinch at anything so, yeah, she's a little weapon who's worked so, so hard."

Eliza McNamara has a bit of fun at Melbourne's team photo day. Picture: AFL Photos

Pearce was also full of praise for key forward Alyssa Bannan, taken with pick No.5 (three in the Victorian pool) in the draft.

"Alyssa's come in with all the talent in the world, so athletic, but she's just gone to work and done everything she can to learn," she said.

Pearce said she will primarily be found at half-back once again in 2021, although she'll still make cameos in the middle.

"I've being squeezed out of the midfield, officially. I thought it might have been just coming back from pregnancy, kind of ease me back into it, but it's officially squeezed out," she said with a laugh.

"But I'm really happy down back. I really loved learning that new role last year and I'm still working away at some of the defensive thought patterns you have to have when you play down back, so it's been good, it's been a really good challenge.

"It gives you an opportunity to kind of sit out of the intensity of the contest and lead a bit more clearly as well."

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