Saints appoint Peta Searle as AFLW coach

Peta Searle will lead St Kilda, ensuring there'll be at least one female AFLW head coach next season
Peta Searle will lead St Kilda, ensuring there'll be at least one female AFLW head coach next season

St Kilda have appointed Peta Searle as their inaugural AFLW coach, ensuring the league will have at least one female senior coach next season.

The Saints on Wednesday confirmed Searle will take the reins when they join the competition next year along with Richmond, West Coast and Gold Coast.

Searle blazed a trail for women in the AFL when she was appointed by St Kilda in 2014 as the first full-time female assistant coach in the men's competition.

The slow pace of progress in that area has raised concerns that the league is lagging in promoting female leadership.

There were no female head coaches in the AFLW last season after Matthew Clarke replaced Bec Goddard at the Crows and Michelle Cowan's position at Fremantle was filled by Trent Cooper.

Speculation is rife that Goddard, who led the Crows to the inaugural AFLW premiership in 2017, could take over the vacant senior coaching post at Collingwood.

Former Dockers coach Cowan will serve as an assistant at cross-town expansion club West Coast under senior coach Luke Dwyer.

Searle coached the Saints' VFL women's team last season and was also in charge of female football pathways at the club.

"I am super excited and very privileged to be the one taking charge of the inaugural women's team," she said.

"I grew up watching footy at Moorabbin, so be able to bring footy back here through our women is really close to my heart."

The four expansion clubs that will join the competition in 2020 have until Thursday to add players to their lists through the first sign and trade period.

Two-time grand finalists Brisbane confirmed on Wednesday that Nat Exon and Kate McCarthy had both accepted offers to join St Kilda.

The Lions suffered a major blow earlier in the week when skipper Leah Kaslar joined Gold Coast and key forward Sabrina Frederick defected to Richmond.

Australian Associated Press