IT'S BEEN a long and gruelling pre-season but on the eve of the first practice match of the summer, the opening round of AFLW 6.0 is now in sight.

Senior Coach Daniel Harford fields the serious and not-so-serious fan questions on all things pre-season.

What’s your summation of the training block to date?

"It’s been long. It’s been a long training block and we’re just about ready for pre-season to be over. The girls, you can feel with that end line in sight – that finish line of pre-season and the start of the regular season – they can see it and you can sense that they can see it. I think we’re all ready to start putting our planning into action, you do that through games – so that practice match this week and then in a couple of weeks there’s Round 1.

"It’s been a long block with the push back of the season from December to January, but I’m pretty sure that the girls are very, very keen to get out there and start hitting some bodies in anger."

How is the bill of health and what position are we sitting in heading into Round 1?

"Pretty well-positioned at the moment health-wise – Mimi Hill is the only real long-term injury we have with her ACL from last season. She’s progressing really well. When we see her again, I don’t know. When she’s ready, I’ll be told that she’s ready but she’s really our only player that won’t be available for Round 1 – that’s a positive start for us, I reckon."

07:21 Mins
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Harford answers fans' questions

AFLW senior coach Daniel Harford answers your questions in this edition of People's Presser.

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What’s it like having Jess Dal Pos at the club?

"Love 'Dal', 'JDP' as I call her. She’s a ripper, she’s really experienced, really competitive – she’s an animal out on the training track which I love, and she’s got a really dry sense of humour.

I’ve been chasing her for two years, she refused to answer my phone calls but all of a sudden she picked up and we were able to latch onto her. She’ll be a big part of what we’re trying to build."

Have the slow starts to games been addressed and who has improved the most over pre-season?

"They’ve tried to be addressed, they’re not something we planned. It was a bit of a once-off – last year compared to the last two years we were very good in first quarters so I’m not too stressed about it.

"On the flip side of that, we’re the best second and third quarter scoring team in the comp – you probably want to distribute it a bit more evenly but it has been discussed, we’re going to try a few new things and see what happens.

"Who’s been the best performer out on the training track? There’s been a few. Grace Egan’s done a really good job, Elise O’Dea’s done a hell of a job, Brea Moody has come back in great fiddle as well. We’re starting to see the emergence of some of the younger players – Maddy Guerin, Abbie McKay’s coming through, Brooke Vernon’s had a decent summer.

"Lots of the players have worked really hard, I think with the length of time we’ve had to prepare them, we’ve started to see a lot of them grow throughout that time."

How has Poppy Schaap settled in to the club and could she end up having stints in defence as well as up forward?

"Poppy has fitted in beautifully for a player that came in late. With a head like that, she’s hard to miss. She’s a great personality, she’s a terrific trainer – works her absolute backside off when she’s training and is really hungry to be the best player she can be. We’ll see what she’s got for us – I don’t think we’ll be seeing her too deep in defence."

What positional changes to do you see to our list compared to last season?

"There’s not going to be too many. There are a couple that we’re going to practice on the weekend but I wouldn’t expect any wholesale changes or people going from back to forward, or forward to back. Maybe one or two, but I don’t want to give away too much too soon so you’re going to have to stand by for that."

03:01 Mins
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Confessions of a Game Changer | Episode 1: Kerryn Harrington

Welcome to the first instalment of Confessions of a Game Changer. In episode one, captain Kerryn Harrington talks about pre-season and the 2022 fixture.

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What is your favourite post-win feed?

"Pretty straight forward, the That’s Amore Cheese cannoli – it’s delicious. You can’t understand how delicious this cannoli is so if you’re a That’s Amore or cannoli fan, treat yourself and enjoy. It’s a party in your mouth and everyone’s invited."

Given the interruptions of this year, how have the skills and fitness of the players been?

"They’ve been terrific. The fitness has been really good – as I mentioned we’ve had a really long time to prepare the girls – they’re in really good shape and up on all the metrics that we’ve measured over the past couple of years.

"Skill-wise, it’s just a matter of getting out there and practicing under a bit more pressure which we’ve done through the off-season and hopefully that holds us in good stead."

Would you rather fight one Andy Maher-sized duck or 20 duck-sized Andy Mahers?

"That’s pretty straight forward. Andy Maher is as soft as butter, so a duck – who is a fluffy beast – would be a fluffy, soft as butter beast. That would be a very easy kill for me and I don’t have to kill 20 of them."

02:32 Mins
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"Overwhelming sense of positivity": Newman on being named assistant coach

Nic Newman spoke to Carlton Media after being appointed assistant coach for the AFLW program.

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