A CARLTON VFLW side was never in doubt for AFLW senior coach Daniel Harford. 

Through a year that has seen sacrifices made across the league, the Blues safe-guarded the future of their women’s program with a commitment to the second-tier league.

Speaking on Women's Australian Rules Football Radio this week, Harford spoke to the consistency of Carlton AFLW despite the year’s disruption.

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Harford looking forward to AFLW return

Daniel Harford spoke to the team at Women's Australian Rules Football Radio about the impending return of AFLW.

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“We’ve committed to the VFLW program, we want that in-house. We want to manage that and look after that from our perspective,” Harford said.

“We want to control the program, we want to manage the players in the way we see best and keep it together through our club feel and our club environment.

“We’re committed to that, the VFLW program and the players are fully aware of that so we don’t have any stresses from that perspective.”

From a coaching perspective, Harford believes a second-tier competition is the key to developing players in concurrence with an AFLW program. 

While the structure of the VFLW competition is not yet clear, Harford believes it will be most impactful in its ability to develop players when running alongside the AFLW competition.

“There’s a lot of anxiety from players who don’t play in the AFLW because there’s nowhere else to play. There’s nothing else you can do to put your case forward to the coach as to why you should be playing,” he said.

“You can sit there and watch all the video you like and talk until the cows come home but until you can show a body of work, then what really have you got to make your case to the coaching staff of what you’re capable of doing?

“I think it’s a really good opportunity: it also manages getting injured players back in a bit more effectively going forward.”

Counting down to AFLW 5.0, Harford is eager to see his Blues out on the track again after their season was cut short in March.

Despite the physical challenges of pre-season, Harford believes the group will be mentally ready to go again.

“I think mentally they’ll just be chomping at the bit to have a conversation with someone outside their house, let alone get the chance to run around with 29 of their mates playing footy,” he said.

“I think the mental component will be self-sufficient from all the players. They’ll just go about their business and be really excited and energised about having the opportunity to hang out after all those months in lockdown.”