Tayla Harris moves to Demons as AFLW contract standoff ends
Star Melbourne recruit Tayla Harris is determined to return to her best after officially joining a third AFLW club. The Demons secured the wantaway Carlton forward via a three-way trade with GWS that saw classy midfielder Jess Dal Pos join the Blues, while Chloe Dalton and Katie Loynes head north to the Giants.
Harris, 24, and Carlton parted ways after the Blues baulked at her contract demands for next season – reported to be $150,000. The move sees Harris, who is the AFLW’s highest-profile player, effectively come full circle.
The Queenslander made a name for herself as a raw, high-flying forward as a teenager for Melbourne in exhibition matches, before she later became one of Brisbane’s marquee players. She also attracted attention for her spectacular kicking style at the time, and Harris is excited about reuniting with Demons captain Daisy Pearce.
“I am really excited to be part of such a great club with a talented group of girls, all pushing to be their best,” Harris said. “I can already tell this will be a great environment for me to be the best version of myself. I want to be a positive voice around the club and for my teammates. I know it’s up to me to perform my role and play my part in this team and I’m ready for that challenge.”
Once her AFLW career kicked off with the Lions in 2017, Harris became a three-time All-Australian and arguably the best contested mark in the competition. But she became the genuine face of the league in 2019, skyrocketing into cultural significance on the back of a photograph of her kicking for goal.
The 2021 season was Harris’ worst in the AFLW but Pearce last week threw her support behind the 24-year-old, telling SEN she’d be “excited” to play alongside her again.
Harris will add serious marking power and athleticism to a Melbourne forward line already boasting Kate Hore, Shelley Scott, Alyssa Bannan and Eden Zanker. Tegan Cunningham was also expected to be part of that forward group, but on Tuesday announced her retirement via Instagram.
Electric midfielder Olivia Purcell will join Harris at the Demons. Purcell, 20, was taken by Geelong at pick No 14 in the 2018 draft and played in their first two AFLW seasons – winning the Cats’ best and fairest in 2020. She is recovering from an ACL injury suffered in Geelong’s loss to Richmond on 27 February.
The Cats have secured 2019 Adelaide premiership forward Chloe Scheer, as well as Melbourne’s Chantel Emonson, in return. Victorian midfielder Dal Pos, 27, spent four years at GWS and was All-Australian and the Giants’ best-and-fairest winner in 2017. Dual-code athlete Dalton took this season off to focus on her Rugby Sevens career ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and returns home to Sydney, while former Blues co-captain Loynes will continue her career at GWS.