Molly Eastman will lead North Melbourne’s VFLW team in 2022, after being named captain of the side for the upcoming season.

Eastman will be supported by fellow leadership group members Brooke Slaney (vice captain), Sarah Skinner, Jess Jones, Emily Paterno and Ashlea Melnikas.

“It was a bit of a surprise,” Eastman said after her new captaincy role was announced at training on Monday night.

“Given we have such a new group of girls and being a more experienced player, the opportunity has fallen into my lap.”

North Melbourne's VFLW leadership group for 2022 (L-R): Jess Jones,Sarah Skinner, Molly Eastman (C), Brooke Slaney (VC), Ashlea Melnikas, Emily Paterno.

Runner up in the 2021 North Melbourne VFLW best & fairest, Eastman enjoyed a standout season in 2021, averaging 21 disposals per game, and 5.1 rebound 50’s, top four in the VFLW competition.

After five years of VFLW football under her belt, first with the Darebin Flacons and more recently with North Melbourne, Eastman says her experiences playing under great captains like her predecessor Meagan Kiely, will hold her in good stead.

“She was a great captain and had her own unique leadership style. But with such a new group this year it’s a fresh start for everyone.”

That fresh start also includes a new coach, with Steph Binder taking the reins this season.

“Steph and the coaches have really connected with all the players,” Eastman said.

“The culture that Steph and the girls have been able to create over preseason in such a short period of time, with everyone being so fresh to the club, really speaks volumes to how well they’re doing.

Captaincy adds yet another string to Eastman’s bow as she continues to bide her time in the VFLW competition and work towards landing an AFLW opportunity in the future. 

“I know I’m going to learn a lot being a captain and I think being able to add leadership qualities to my skillset would be appealing to clubs who may pick me up (in future).

“Having people like Ash Riddell, 'Meags' Kiely and even Airlie Runnalls who got picked up later when they were a bit older and had missed out on a few drafts. It also helps knowing it can happen eventually.”