Daisy Pearce was a “no-brainer” for West Coast and her appointment as their new AFLW coach is a major coup.
Pearce, one of the AFLW’s two greatest figures along with Erin Phillips, will make her senior coaching debut at a women’s team that has won only seven of 37 games since joining the league five seasons ago.
Her three-year appointment, announced on Monday, is as big a statement of intent by the Eagles as it is a major commitment by Pearce.
“‘Dais’ was a priority for us and we thought she could bring something probably no-one else in Australia can bring to our club,” said Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett.
“Obviously we pursued it pretty heavily and forced her position.
“This was a no-brainer for us.
“It’s just a vote of confidence for our program and the girls who are playing. We think it’s a really important step forward.”
Pearce retired from playing after captaining Melbourne to their first premiership last season and has spent this year as a development coach in Geelong’s AFL program, as well as building her TV commentary career.
Michelle Cowan, West Coast’s AFLW football boss, coached Pearce before the AFLW started in 2017 and they talk regularly.
So there was an easy ‘in’ for the Eagles, and Pearce quickly warmed to the idea, despite being settled at Geelong.
“A call from Michelle isn’t an unusual thing, but I could tell pretty quickly this one wasn’t just to chew the fat. It was something a bit different,” she said.
“To think there’s a position on the other side of the country, at an enormous footy club, that’s serious and legitimate enough to move my family across here – it’s pretty surreal how quickly the game has grown.
“It’s pretty cool to go full circle with someone you started it with.”
Nisbett also impressed Pearce immediately with his interest in the women’s program.
“Here’s a place where you’re not going to have to convince them that women’s footy matters,” she said. “That investment was something that was really clear straight away.
“There’s a lot of good stuff already happening.”
Pearce said there was plenty of talent on West Coast’s AFLW list and she was excited by the job ahead.
She heaped praise on the Cats, saying while they backed her decision the highly successful club was a difficult one to leave.
Pearce added Geelong AFL coach Chris Scott had set a great example.
“You don’t need to be everything to everyone all of the time as a senior coach,” she said.
Despite Dani Laidley expressing enthusiasm for a return to a senior role, it is understood the former North Melbourne AFL coach did not apply for the West Coast job.
Pearce is unsure what will become of her TV commentary, saying: “I’m all-in as a coach.”
On the weekend, the Demons reflected Pearce’s status in the game by naming their AFLW best and fairest award in her honour.
Pearce was one of the original marquee players when the AFLW started in 2017.
Her glittering career at the Demons featured three club best and fairest awards, three All-Australian selections and four players association honours as the AFLW’s best captain.
Former Eagles coach Michael Prior did not see out the season after back-tracking on his criticism of being fixtured against powerhouse Melbourne, following a 70-point loss to the Demons.
Hawthorn, the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood are also in the market for new AFLW senior coaches.