Fremantle will enter the sixth season of the NAB AFL Women’s Competition with Hayley Miller as the Club’s successor to inaugural captain Kara Antonio.

She will be supported in a five-strong leadership group alongside vice captains Kiara Bowers and Ange Stannett, as well as Gabby O’Sullivan and Stephanie Cain.

Miller first joined Fremantle in 2016 as the Club’s first ever draft pick, joining a list that previously only had marquee signings Antonio and Bowers and priority signings Ebony Antonio and Kirby Bentley.

She’s played 38 games for Fremantle in five seasons, the most AFLW games for the Club alongside Ebony Antonio and Gabby O’Sullivan.

The 25-year-old said earning the captaincy has become the highlight of her career so far.

“Prior to today, the proudest moment in my life was being drafted and going as the number one draft pick for Fremantle in the very first year and I knew at the time I wouldn’t realise the significance of that until I finished playing,” Miller said.

“Today, to stand and be the captain of this footy Club is an incredibly proud moment for me and I remember having a conversation with our previous coach early on, that a goal of mine was to captain Fremantle. For that to have happened today is pretty incredible.

“It hasn’t sunk in completely yet, but I feel incredibly proud and excited for what’s to come for the group and the Club.”

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Miller can’t think of a better stage to run out for the first time as captain, with Fremantle set to open the season at Fremantle Oval in round one against Adelaide.

Not only will the Adelaide clash be the Club’s first game with Miller at the helm, it will also be Fremantle’s first home game at the ground under lights, to symbolise a new era for the Club.

“I love a night game, those games are my favourite fixtures in the WAFLW, so we’re just super excited as a group to get out there and have a night game at Fremantle Oval in front of the Purple Army. Thinking about that moment makes the excitement for the new season a little bit more real,” Miller said.

“Previously, it’s always been my thing to run out with the team after Juddy (Kara Antonio) and it already feels weird that I won’t be running out behind her anymore.

“Right now, we’re just incredibly excited about this season and the girls are training really well on the track. There’s only one thing that we want and that’s to play finals and go all the way. That’s our number one focus and that’s what we want to bring this year.”

03:18 Mins
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The journey to the captaincy | Hayley Miller

From Fremantle's first ever AFLW draft pick, to captain. Hayley Miller will lead Fremantle into a new era as the Club's successor to inaugural captain Kara Antonio.

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Miller rose to the captaincy on the back of a player-led vote and she said she couldn’t be happier to lead alongside her fellow four leaders.

“I’m thrilled to be named as the captain but there’s five of us in the leadership group with ‘Turbo’ (Bowers) and Ange being the vice captains,” Miller said.

“Turbo’s done this role for many years and she’s incredible at it, and to have Ange in as a leader for the first time and to be vice captain just shows how incredible she is, it’s a testament to the type of player, leader and person she is. I’m stoked for her to be given that position.

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“And Steph and Gabby, for Caino to be promoted into this leadership role, she’s been an emerging leader for the past couple of years but to get a title in the leadership group is amazing and Gabby’s been a leader for a few years now and done a great job. As a whole group, we’re just super excited to lead this team onto bigger and better things.”

Fremantle’s Head of Football Operations and Performance Bob Murphy, a former Western Bulldogs captain, said Miller had all the traits the Club would want in a leader.

“Hayley’s strengths stem from the fact that she’s been at the Club from the very start of the AFLW program, she’s got a really good appreciation of that history and the significance of the role she’s taking on,” Murphy said.

“She’s had great mentors, including Kara Antonio, but she’s also got the self-belief to make the captaincy her own, which is a pretty special trait in Hayley.

“She’s driven, she cares about Fremantle and she cares about her teammates.

“What jumped out for me since I first started working with Fremantle’s AFLW program is the leadership talent, depth and variety within the whole group, which is rare and very exciting for the Club.

“There’s an appetite to take on the responsibility, which is just as important as any of those other three traits, and that stands out the most in Hayley as well as her fellow leaders in Kiara, Ange, Gabby and Steph.

“At a camp, we had recently, they all spoke in front of the group every single one spoke with great passion and honesty and vulnerability and they’ve been voted in by their peers because of that.”

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06:18 Mins
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'I've got some big shoes to fill.' | Hayley Miller

Hayley Miller chats to media after the announcement of her captaincy and discusses her plans and hopes for the 2022 season.

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