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Stars align for AFLW coaching team

Natalie Medhurst will be AFLW player development manager in season 2018. Natalie Medhurst will be AFLW player development manager in season 2018.

Fremantle has finalised their coaching staff for the 2017 AFLW season, re-signing assistant coaches Martine Pearman, Tony Walters and Craig Thomas under the leadership of senior coach Michelle Cowan.

The group will also have a wealth of experienced AFL players to lean on, with David Mundy, Lachie Neale, Michael Johnson and Lee Spurr joining Brady Grey in assisting the coaching group during pre-season.

An assistant coach for the 2017 AFLW season, Paul Hasleby has departed to focus on his media duties.

Senior coach Michelle Cowan was delighted to have Pearman, Walters and Thomas on board for the 2018 season.

“It’s great for the team to have that consistency. They bring so much knowledge and experience. I know the girls will be excited to have them all on board again,” Cowan said.

A development coach in 2017, Pearman will take on the midfield coaching role in 2018.

A former senior coach of the Coastal Titans in the WAWFL and current reserves assistant coach at Subiaco, Pearman also coached alongside Cowan with Melbourne during the AFLW exhibition matches staged in the years leading up to the inaugural AFLW season.

“Martine has great knowledge of the WA players,” Cowan said. 

“She was in more of a development coaching role last season and it’s great for us that she’ll be on board as our midfield coach in 2018.

South Fremantle forwards coach Tony Walters and former West Perth colts coach Craig Thomas will continue their roles in 2018, with Walters working as the forwards coach and Thomas as the defence coach.

After Grey’s significant contribution in 2017, Cowan said she was delighted to have four additional Fremantle players joining the coaching group.

“Brady’s been exceptional with his commitment to the women’s program. He brings, as a player, his knowledge and experience of playing at the highest level,” Cowan said. 

“He’s really elite in the way that he prepares himself and is really driven in his own football. The girls have learnt a lot from him so we’re rapt to have him on board again - he’s going to be an exceptional coach in the future.”

In Mundy, Neale, Spurr and Johnson, Cowan inherits a group with leadership experience and a former Fremantle captain in Mundy.

“It’s great to have all those boys on board. The support from the club has been incredible and for myself, being entrenched at times in the men’s program, the guys are always engaged in the women’s program, asking a lot of questions and wanting to be involved,” Cowan said.

“Their playing and leadership experience is going to be exceptional for us.

“Our girls are hungry to be the best they can be on and off the field and it’s great that this integration with both of our teams is flourishing and both sides are benefitting from that.”

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