Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce has said she’s not contemplating retirement after leading her side to a breakthrough AFLW premiership.
- Daisy Pearce says she has been uncomfortable with the focus put on her in Melbourne’s run to a premiership
- Pearce and Maddi Gay heap praise on Demons’ coach Mick Stinear
- Meanwhile Lions captain Bre Koenen promises Brisbane will make a return to the big stage after grand final defeat
“Don’t even make me think about it and rob me of this moment,” the 34-year-old told Channel Seven’s Abbey Holmes after the Dees’ upset win.
“I”m not thinking further ahead than right now.
“I’m just so proud of our group … we just found a way to win, through sheer heart and our spirit.”
Pearce, who has been marketed as the face of AFLW since its inception, said she had been “uncomfortable” with the amount of focus on her in the lead-up.
“The narrative about [the premiership] being about me, I feel like that’s a glorified thing that happens outside these four walls,” she said.
“In here, all that happens to me is the shit is taken out of me, I’m the butt of everyone’s jokes. It’s no coincidence that I keep coming back here and playing.”
In an uncharacteristically unguarded moment, Pearce also appeared to take a swipe at the clubs who had sought to raid the Demons’ list during the competition’s expansion.
“We don’t have the best facility in the comp,” she said.
“We’re a bit off-Broadway, we’re not the most popular team, we don’t have the bells and whistles and we don’t give away cars to players who come [to the club]🇧🇷
“But we have the best coach and he’ll make you a good footballer. He [Mick Stinear] is the heart of this team. I just play for him.”
‘There was a different feeling around this one’
In the victorious rooms after the game, Maddi Gay was equally effusive in her praise for the man who has coached the Demons in every season of AFLW.
Asked what made the club so special, she replied, “one man, called Mick Stinear”.
“He’s got so much respect around the club, and he’s just signed a two year contract,” Gay told the ABC.
“Thank god, because I thought he might be finished after this, but yeah, he’s unbelievable.”
Gay, who said the win was yet to sink in, also reserved praise for high-profile recruit Tayla Harris, who had played in three losing grand finals prior to today.
“I’m good mates with Tayla, and she just makes the contest every time, she puts her body on the line,” Gay said.
“She’s even got a good cut under her eye. But yeah there’s multiple teammates who really deserve this medal, including ‘Dais’ obviously.”
On the bond among the playing group, Gay also gave some insight into the quirky means the club had gone to improve morale this season, engaging in weekly “improv” sessions together before training.
“It really gets you out of your comfort zone,” she said.
“It’s really random, but if you make a mistake, we just get around the person. So I feel like that sort of changed our mindset. You can be nervous, but be nervous because you’re out there playing in a grand final, not because you’re nervous about yourself.”
Gay said the unconventional approach had paid off, with the group noticeably “calm” before the biggest game of the season, and their second Grand Final this year.
“We’ve been here a few months ago [in season six]which was an advantage, I reckon,” Gay said.
“It was just a different feeling about this one. We had no doubts, whereas last season we were going up against Adelaide and no-one had really beaten them.”
Koenen promises ‘we’ll be back’
Meanwhile, Brisbane captain Bre Koenen said the loss was a “bitter pill to swallow” after the Lions had finished the season on top of the ladder, losing just one game before the Grand Final.
“It’s obviously super disappointing, especially in front of a home crowd,” she said.
“Winning 11 games, and losing two, and not getting the silverware in the end … like in any other league you’d be fine. It’s a brutal competition.
“It’s very hard to get here, let alone losing one. I’ve now lost three out of four grand finals, but obviously the group are really close and we’ll support each other over the next few days and move on as best we can can and learn from it.”
On what had gone wrong for the home side, Koenen said “finals footy is a matter of moments”.
“There’ll be a million moments where we might not have stood up and done what we needed to do, but that goes both ways. They just made the most of their opportunities today, and we didn’t.”
Konen said one “silver lining” for the day was the performance of Shannon Campbell, who had the rare honor of winning best on ground in a losing Grand Final.
“She is honestly the most-deserving and hardest-working human I know,” the All-Australian said.
“I’m so stoked for her. She played brilliantly and was a rock back there, as she always is.”
Asked what her message to the group would be moving forward, Koenen replied simply, “we’ll be back”.
“I’m still super, super proud of the girls. We were minor premiers for a reason. And we’ll come back again next season and do it all again. That’s why we love it.”