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Unearthing future stars

The countdown is on for North Melbourne to introduce its own AFLW team and the club’s recruiters are working overtime to unearth the nation’s top prospects.

Currently the team is holding talent searches in Tasmania with promising signs.

“The standard really has increased dramatically,’’ North GM football operations Laura Kane told The Advocate at the Turners Beach Football Club in Ulverstone, Tasmanaia.

“Their skill level is so much better as well. They have always been dedicated, committed and worked hard, that is still there, but their understanding of what they need to work on, and that they have put that work in, has improved.”

Accompanied by North’s AFLW list manager Rhys Harwood and AFL Tasmania state talent manager Jy Bond, Kane said that work to start shaping North’s list ahead of the 2019 season is well underway.

North Melbourne officials Leah Caluzzi, Matt Bolitho and Rhys Harwood at the searches.

“We want to find players here, whether they are footballers who are up to the standard or cross-code athletes who have transferable skills,” Kane said.

“As well as the competition (TSLW) consolidating, the girls got better and were playing around better players, and they are better footballers for it.

“This is a really strong football area, and with the females, we do feel they have been exposed to it potentially for longer.

“But this is something we are seeing state-wide, that the girls really do love their footy, and with the local girls being drafted (with Launceston’s Courtney Webb and Daria Bannister also in the competition) they can see there is a pathway and they do know it is possible to make their way to the competition.

“Now all the work the AFL Tas is doing (including the introduction of the under 18 development series) that is just further cementing that pathway to the national game, which currently doesn’t exist for the boys in Tassie, but it is wonderful that we can get this happening for the girls.”

AFLW hopeful's lineup for a drill at the Launceston talent search.

Those that took part were tested on the basic fitness and skills, before being put through match simulation.

“We are looking at all the athletes here equally, we want to find players who are up to AFLW standard and we want half our list to be Tasmanian,’’ Kane said.

“April will be the first piece of the expansion when AFL 2.0 finishes, when we can sign players from current AFLW clubs, cross-code athletes or any open-ager we want, and we will fill the rest of our spots via the draft which will be in October.” 

North’s search began in Launceston on Sunday and ends in Hobart on Tuesday.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs