Get ready: Expansion bonanza could see 60 players change clubs

CLUBS are bracing for a boom of expansion signings during this year's AFLW sign and trade period, which could see upwards of 60 players change teams.

With the official period set to finally begin on Tuesday morning, womens.afl has surveyed a host of AFLW list and recruiting managers, as well as coaches and heads of football in recent days, who believe around 40 to 50 established AFLW players could head to expansion teams over the next week.

The majority also said that, at a conservative guess, there could be more than 20 players then traded between existing sides during what is predicted to be a whirlwind fortnight for the AFLW player movement space.

Already, expansion teams have targeted some of the game’s biggest names with Essendon prising Carlton’s former League best and fairest Madison Prespakis and strong-marking Western Bulldogs forward Bonnie Toogood ahead of its inaugural season.

(L-R): Tayla Harris, Madison Prespakis and Grace Egan chat during round 10, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

The Bombers have also secured agreements with classy Blues forward Georgia Gee, Dockers wing Steph Cain and Pies forward Sophie Alexander, while they have been tipped to sign Cats midfielder Sophie Van De Heuvel.

Port Adelaide has lured triple-premiership winner and AFLW legend Erin Phillips from crosstown rivals Adelaide, while it has agreements with Fremantle star Gemma Houghton and fellow Crows guns Ange Foley and Justine Mules.

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Sydney is still searching for its marquee signing but has built a solid core that includes Brenna Tarrant from Melbourne, Bella Smith from Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney players Ally Morphett and Bec Privitelli.

Meanwhile, Hawthorn has pinched underrated midfielder Tilly Lucas-Rodd from St Kilda and is filling out its list with a number of experienced AFLW recruits including Jess Duffin and Sarah Perkins.

Greater Western Sydney's Nicola Barr is tackled by St Kilda's Tilly Lucas-Rodd during round eight, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

The bevvy of players heading to expansion teams will be followed by a series of prominent names being traded between the existing 14 sides, led by the Giants dealing for popular Dogs gun Isabel Huntington.

Carlton duo Grace Egan and Nicola Stevens look headed for Richmond and St Kilda respectively, Adelaide premiership winner Nikki Gore has requested a move to Fremantle, while the Saints are also likely to deal for Grace Kelly and Erin McKinnon.

The Cats are seen as being in the box seat to land Mikayla Bowen from the Eagles and Jackie Parry from the Demons, though Phoebe McWilliams has attracted interest from the Bulldogs and the Giants while Jordan Ivey is expected to land at Melbourne.

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And, while reigning premier Adelaide is bracing to lose a handful of premiership players to clubs across the competition, it will secure West Coast’s exciting Irish wing Niamh Kelly via a trade. The Eagles will then gain Demons forward Krstel Petrevski.

Gold Coast is eyeing a move for Carlton forward Courtney Jones, with its local rivals Brisbane spending the majority of its time successfully staving off interest in stars such as Emily Bates, Orla O’Dwyer and Nat Grider.

North Melbourne is set to recruit Irish pair Vikki Wall and Erika O’Shea from Gaelic sides to bolster its premiership chances, though mystery remains as to where speedster Kaitlyn Ashmore will play next season.