From premiership captain to assistant: Lions hero joins coaching ranks

PREMIERSHIP captain Emma Zielke will continue her journey with Brisbane's AFL Women's team in 2022 and beyond, named by the club as an assistant coach on Tuesday.

Zielke, who led the Lions to their historic first flag in April, will take over the backline duties vacated by Brent Staker last week.

She is the first female assistant coach in Brisbane's history.

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Zielke said she wanted to stay involved with the club and the opportunity was too good to refuse.

"I was always aspiring to be a coach," she said.

Brisbane premiership captain Emma Zielke and coach Craig Starcevich at the 2021 W Awards in April. Picture: AFL Photos

"I didn't think it would come this soon because we didn't realise Stakes was going to depart, but once that became public I shouted out to Bree (Brock, head of women's football) and (coach) Craig (Starcevich) and put my hand up for that … they said 'jump on board for the ride'."

Zielke was the Lions' inaugural captain and took them to Grand Finals in 2017 and 2018 before enjoying the ultimate success last season.

Only her and fellow retiree Lauren Arnell are not returning from the team that overwhelmed Adelaide in April.

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Zielke, 33, said she expected the jump from teammate to coach to be a smooth one.

"I've captained them for a couple of years now and really built those great relationships," she said.

"I think that's going to be quite an advantage, knowing their games inside and out, I've focused on them a lot already.

Emma Zielke with the premiership cup after Brisbane's win in the 2021 AFLW Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

"Now I get a chance to take a step back from on-field and focus on them individually. 

"Hopefully those relationships I've built with them will come in good stead with those honest, genuine conversations.

'To continue my journey here is something I'm really, really grateful for."