The Cats have named a near full-strength squad to take on the Melbourne Demons in Saturday’s AFL Women’s practice match.
All but four of the Cats’ 2021 available players have been named in the squad of 26 for their last hit-out before their season-opener in two weeks’ time.
Nina Morrison continues her rehabilitation from a knee reconstruction, while Maddy McMahon, Danielle Higgins and Madisen Maguire are all being managed but are expected to be fit for Round 1.
“Maddy McMahon and Danielle Higgins were both in outstanding form in the intraclub last week, they played really, really well but just came away with little knocks,” Cats head coach Paul Hood said.
“We thought, because they’re in such great form already, there’s no real need to put them through a practice match when they’re a tiny bit sore. But with two weeks off between the practice match and Round 1, I think they should pull up just fine.
“Madisen Maguire has had just a little bit of soreness with her leg, but hopefully that’s all good in two weeks’ time and she’s someone else we can consider for selection.
“She was looking really sharp before Christmas, so hopefully this little leg soreness passes quickly.”
The practice match will give Geelong’s quintet of new recruits their first opportunity to run out in a competitive game in the hoops.
Darcy Moloney, Laura Gardiner, Carly Remmos, Olivia Barber and Steph Williams have impressed as they’ve stepped up to the AFLW level over the pre-season.
Mia Skinner, who sat out the 2020 season with a stress reaction in her femur, and former baseballer Nicole Garner will also get their chance to push their claim for a debut in 2021.
“It’s pretty exciting to have those new players playing for the first time,” Hood said.
“Mia has done a lot of work and a lot of training to be able to actually get to wear the hoops in a proper game, so that’s great.
“Nic has had a really solid pre-season. She’s incredibly fit, a really hardworking player, she’s very coachable and really keen to do whatever the coaches ask of her, and play any role.
“For our five draftees … it’s a great opportunity for each of them. They’re all showing glimpses in training of the terrific potential that they’ve got. It’ll be great to see them play with a team full of experienced teammates around them.”
The practice match will be new captain Meghan McDonald’s first as the Cats’ leader, while new vice-captain Jordi Ivey will get the chance to unveil what she’s been working on over the pre-season.
The forward-turned-midfielder has added defence to her portfolio over the pre-season, and will get the opportunity to put into practice what she has learned.
“Jordi (will be) going back to the back line at AFLW level for the first time,” Hood said.
“She’s taken to it like a duck to water. She’s a terrifically combative person – she hates anyone getting a kick on her, no matter where she’s playing – and that serves her really well in defence.
“She’s taken her level of fitness and skill to a new level over the last 12 months. With an uninterrupted period of training and the experience around her in that back line, she’s really gone to another level.
“So we’re looking forward to Jordi, as part of the leadership group and now our vice-captain, having a really solid season. She’s put herself in the best position to do that.”
After a challenging off-season with COVID restrictions, the Cats returned to the track in early November, with an intraclub match last weekend as preparations for the season proper ramp up.
Hood said he was pleased with what he had seen on the track so far as the team prepares for its third season of AFLW.
“It’s been a fantastic and commitment from the team to train at a higher pace, to test themselves, to try to move the ball quickly and put themselves under pressure at training, which is terrific,” he said.
“It’s really commendable that all the players have embraced that philosophy at training so well and driven each other to improve.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.
“(In the intraclub), I thought we ran from the contest really, really well. Just the work rate of the players across the entire field was great to see.
“The team looks pretty fit and pretty sharp. We’re looking forward to matching that against Melbourne, who we know have always been a really fit team themselves, and very hardworking, so it’s fantastic to get such a quality opposition in our practice match.”
Saturday’s practice match will be closed to the public, but Cats fans can keep across all the news across the day by following @catswomens on Twitter and Instagram and on geelongcats.com.au.
SQUAD TO TAKE ON MELBOURNE IN PRACTICE MATCH
Rene Caris, Amy McDonald, Darcy Moloney, Jordi Ivey, Julia Crockett-Grills,
Georgie Rankin, Meghan McDonald, Renee Garing, Aasta O'Connor, Olivia Barber,
Olivia Purcell, Georgia Clarke, Laura Gardiner, Millie Brown, Mia Skinner,
Becky Webster, Nicole Garner, Phoebe McWilliams, Stephanie Williams, Maddie Boyd,
Sophie Van de Heuvel, Denby Taylor, Carly Remmos, Richelle Cranston, Bec Goring, Maddy Keryk