New AFLW teams ‘ready to go’ if season start moves to August

Collinngwood AFLW player Britt Bonnici lays prone after injuring her ACL in 2022

The AFLW’s four newest clubs have backed the suggested August start date for the competition’s next season.

Key points:

  • A move to an August start date has been given conditional approval
  • The AFL says the new teams are keen to start this winter
  • Existing clubs have given a mixed reaction to the suggested move

With the finals series to get underway this weekend for the current AFLW season, round one of the next campaign could be less than five months away.

Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney will be included in the next edition, meaning all 18 AFL clubs will be represented in the women’s competition.

There were concerns about whether the new teams would be prepared to play as early as August, having initially believed their inaugural campaigns would begin in December or next January.

But AFL football operations manager Andrew Dillon said the league was confident the four teams would cope if the competition began in August.

“We’ve spoken with each of those clubs and they’re ready to go and they’re keen to get going as soon as they can,” he said.

“We’ve got a conditional approval to look at an August start date but we’ve got a lot of work to do in the next couple of weeks.

“We’ve gone through the competition committee where the theory of moving to August got 100 per cent [approval], we’ve gone to the AFL commission and now’s the chance to go through the AFLPA (players’ association).”

The plan to start the seventh season of the women’s competition earlier has been met with mixed reactions from coaches.

Kangaroos coach Darren Crocker raised the issue of players who suffered serious knee injuries this year potentially facing two entire seasons on the sidelines.

Collinngwood AFLW player Britt Bonnici lays prone after injuring her ACL in 2022
Britt Bonnici is among the AFLW players recovering from an ACL injury sustained this season.(Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Fremantle coach Trent Cooper said switching the next season to an August start would be tough on various fronts, but ultimately it would be good for the game.

“It’s the right timeslot from listening to what the AFL have told us with things like ratings and all that,” he said.

“This year, it’s probably not ideal to get there as quickly as we’re going to be asked to do, but we’ve shown in AFLW we’re pretty versatile, we can go with the flow.

Gold Coast coach Cameron Joyce said he supported the move, believing the cooler weather would lead to a better spectacle.

“I think clubs are up for that in terms of being able to get their resources and players organised. I think it would be great,” he said.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has forecast a full round of AFLW fixtures in Melbourne on the Friday public holiday before the men’s grand final in September if the women’s season is brought forward.




Author: Ivan Robinson