Fremantle’s AFLW squad continues to strengthen with the signing of key defender Mia-Rae Clifford taking the current list to 20 players.

Clifford played for Melbourne in the inaugural AFLW season and for Geelong last year, before being signed by Fremantle as a free agent.

After playing as a key defender for eight years, Clifford was Geelong’s leading goal-scorer for the 2019 season, where she developed a new role as a defensive-forward.

Clifford praised Fremantle’s AFLW captain Kara Donnellan for playing a significant role in bringing her to the west.

“I heard from ‘Juddy’ (Donellan) late on Friday night when my delisting from Geelong was announced and she asked if I would consider moving to WA” Clifford said.

“Initially, I thought she was joking and had a bit of a laugh but she replied saying she was serious, and I thought ‘wow’.

“I spoke to (senior coach) Trent Cooper and (AFLW manager) Darryn Fry and heard how highly Kara spoke of the club and thought it would be amazing to be a part of.

“I’ve had 48 hours to think about it before the deadline and thought it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.”

Cooper said Clifford’s adaptability makes her an exciting prospect.

“Mia brings a lot of experience, great voice out on the ground and large versatility,” Cooper said.

“She was Geelong’s leading goal-scorer last year, but we think her best football is probably played down back.

“Mia will be valuable cover for us while Alex Williams recovers from her ACL and will allow Ebony Antonio to play either end of the ground. 

“We are really excited to have her onboard for 2020.”

Clifford can’t wait to play alongside the Freo girls in 2020, with one name in particular coming to mind.

“I watched Kiara Bowers come back this year and played against her, I think her story is amazing,” Clifford said.

“She’s worked hard to get back to where she was as if she never missed a beat.

“I’m excited to hopefully, run out beside her next season.”