AFLW should have full season: Kearney

The AFLW has released the make-up of their two-conference league and the 2019 women's draw.

emma kearney of the bulldogs runs with the ball during the aflw match between the collingwood magpies and the western bulldogs at tsr in melbourne australia
EMMA KEARNEY of the Bulldogs runs with the ball during the AFLW match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Western Bulldogs at TSR in Melbourne, Australia. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Reigning AFLW best and fairest Emma Kearney believes the league needs a full-length season so players can better develop their skills.

The league on Friday unveiled the make-up of its controversial two-conference format, along with the 2019 draw.

Newcomers Geelong and North Melbourne are in separate five-team conferences for the seven-round competition that begins on February 2.

While the women's league has expanded to 10 clubs, the regular season hasn't grown meaning not all teams will play each other.

Melbourne star Daisy Pearce has lashed the season's length as gimmicky, with Kearney - who has transferred from Western Bulldogs to North Melbourne - saying many players were left frustrated.

"Daisy was certainly not the lone wolf in that," Kearney said in Hobart.

"As AFLW players we want to be taken seriously and we want the competition to be taken seriously.

"The more games you play at a higher level, the quicker it is to develop players."

North Melbourne is in Conference A with Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle, with Brisbane Lions, Greater Western Sydney, Collingwood, Carlton and Geelong in Conference B.

They'll play home games in Melbourne, Hobart and Launceston, with training to be split between Tasmania and the mainland.

Kearney said it will be a challenge to gel a new squad, about half of which is yet to play AFLW.

"I like helping out young people. I'm a teacher by trade," she said.

Geelong host Collingwood in a Saturday night season opener, with the league ditching the Magpies-Carlton match-up from its first two years.

Premiers Western Bulldogs meet Brisbane in round four in a grand final rematch.

Teams in each conference play each other, plus three 'cross-over' matches against sides from the other conference.

The top two teams in each group qualify for preliminary finals.

"We know that the conference system may take a bit of time for people to get used to," Head of Women's Football, Nicole Livingstone, told reporters.

"We also know that it's going to create excitement and discussion throughout our season."

Entry remains free in the competition's third year.

The grand final will be held on March 30 or 31.


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