Overlooked defender gets her chance at the Dees

FORMER NAB AFLW Academy member Maeve Chaplin has finally earned her opportunity at the top level, signed by Melbourne as a replacement player.

Defender Chaplin, 19, played as a top-age player in the 2021 NAB AFLW Under-19 Championships for Vic Metro after being overlooked in her draft year.

She will be replacing the uncapped Isabella Simmons on the Dees list, who has been ruled out for the season with a stress fracture in her foot.

In a promising sign for Melbourne's injury list, only Simmons and Liv Purcell (ACL) missed the Dees' practice match win over Collingwood.

Melbourne's Isabella Simmons looks on during a training session on October 7, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

"This is disappointing and frustrating news for Issy, as she has been working hard to improve her game on and off field," Melbourne coach Mick Stinear said.

"Issy will shortly begin her rehab, in an effort to play at VFLW level in April or May, while taking the opportunity to learn and develop her understanding of the game.

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"She will also play an important role in supporting her teammates during the week and on game day."

Chaplin was a premiership player with NAB League side Northern Knights in 2019.

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"Maeve is a powerful hybrid defender, who can also play as an inside midfielder," Melbourne list manager Todd Patterson said.

"She has been through the Northern Knights and talent pathway academies. As a result, she has been on our radar since 2020, and was incredibly unlucky not to be drafted.

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"It’s a true credit to Maeve’s perseverance and the programs she has been in that she has made it onto an AFLW list, and we are looking forward to the impact she can have this season."