The North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos have moved to secure their future at both ends of the ground, by extending the contract of exciting key-position prospect Tara Slender.
AFLW clubs are given a two-week window, post-draft, to sign players to one or two-year contacts. Several North draftees signed two year contracts during this time.
Recruited with the 19th selection at the NAB AFLW Draft from the Bendigo Pioneers, Slender spent much of her draft year playing forward and through the midfield, but she’s also a more than capable intercept defender.
AFLW list and performance manager Rhys Harwood says Slender’s versatility is one of her greatest strengths.
“One of the appeals with Tara is she has scope to develop in all three zones”, Harwood told North Media.
“She’ll spend a fair bit of time with our defenders this year. We think that’s a good spot for her to adapt to training and AFLW footy, and some of the most impressive footy she’s played has been behind the ball.
“The coaches and players have been really impressed with her athleticism and intent at training. We think she can be a really versatile prospect for us for quite a while, so we’re keen to lock her in for an extra year.
“With list sizes still limited, there’s obviously a requirement for players to be able to fill multiple roles in our system, so Tara’s size and athleticism give her scope to do that for us.”
Much like a number of new draftees, Slender is still completing her year 12 studies.
Due to the fact she’s finishing the final part of her high school education in Bendigo, the club’s access to her at this stage of pre-season is more limited than other players.
Harwood says the club has been impressed with Slender’s training standards, when she’s been able to get to Arden Street.
“All the first-year girls who come in take a bit longer to build up to full training, particularly those who are completing Year 12,” he said.
“We’ve only had limited access to her at this point, but she’s applied herself really well on the occasions she’s been able to travel down.
“She will build into full training as the pre-season progresses, but there’s certainly no rush. We’re really excited for her future here.”