ESSENDON has pulled off a stunning double coup ahead of its maiden season in the AFLW, with the club set to sign important Carlton duo Maddy Prespakis and Georgia Gee.
Womens.afl can reveal the Bombers have lured both players in what is a significant filip for the incoming expansion side and a brutal blow for their arch rivals at Ikon Park.
Prespakis is a three-time best and fairest with the Blues and won the League best and fairest crown in 2020, while Gee has become one of the side's most influential players across the forward line.
Carlton later confirmed the news on Monday night, saying the club had been speaking with Gee and Prespakis for several weeks and "exploring every possible avenue to retain them".
The Blues' women's footy boss Brett Munro said the development was disappointing yet the reality of the League's expansion.
"The introduction of four new expansion clubs was always going to create a significant challenge in terms of being able to retain your players," Munro said.
"It is obviously disappointing to lose Maddy and Georgia, there is no shying away from that, given our significant investment in both of them to date over the last four years and five years respectively.
Three Best and Fairest awards in four seasons?— Carlton Women's (@carltonfc_w) April 7, 2022
Yeah, that has a nice ring to it.
Maddy Prespakis has claimed her third Carlton AFLW Best and Fairest! 🥇 pic.twitter.com/ZcPvMCfGDZ
"Our intention, which we had made known right throughout discussions, was to have them both part of the team success we are building with this playing group, to go along with the individual success they have deservingly earned so far in their careers.
"However the reality is that some of the offers being made in regards to player movement this off-season are very significant.
"That has its positives for the AFLW competition as a whole but for existing clubs, it places you in an unavoidably tough situation in terms of being able to compete with those offers.
"You never want to lose good players, you want to do everything possible to keep them, however it has to be within reason.
"We have been detailed with our strategy in how we’ve gone about building this playing list, through the draft, to now having the youngest list in the competition that we believe will set ourselves up for sustained success.
"To compromise that strategy entirely for the possibility of retaining a player would have put that long term goal at risk, which would not have been in the best interest of the football club.
"While we certainly did not want to lose Maddy and Georgia, it now gives us a significant number of options heading into this off-season.
"One aspect is that we now have considerable flexibility in our salary cap, from both a player retention and acquisition point of view that we can take into the upcoming Sign and Trade Period."
Essendon later released a statement saying the club would work with Gee and Prespakis to facilitate the signing when the appropriate window opened.