Keeping off to Blues in coach coup

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AFL:Carlton young gun Jack Silvagni is on the verge of making his AFL debut as the Blues head into their clash with Collingwood

Carlton women’s coach Damien Keeping. Picture: Eugene Hyland

CARLTON has poached Western Bulldogs coach ­Damien Keeping to lead its team in the inaugural national women’s league.

Only three weeks ago Keeping was instructing the Bulldogs women’s team as it defeated Western Australia at Etihad Stadium, but he’s now a Blue and will join the club in a full-time role in August.

His appointment follows confirmation of another former Bulldogs women’s coach, Collingwood premiership player Craig Starcevich, to helm Brisbane’s women’s team.

Melbourne is expected to be led by its current women’s coach Michelle Cowan, who is already part of the Demons’ coaching set-up.

Clubs must on Thursday nominate five potential marquee players to the AFL, with each team to be granted two designated stars before the end of July.

While Keeping would not reveal his preferred players, high-marking forward Darcy Vescio works at the club as a graphic designer and inside midfielder Lauren Arnell helped on the club’s bid for a women’s licence and works as an ambassador at the Blues, making them frontrunners to land at Ikon Park.

Carlton Women's Coach Damien Keeping (centre) flanked by assistant coaches Shane Watson and Dale Amos, men’s coach Brendon Bolton and assistants Tim Clarke and John Barker at Ikon Park. Picture: Eugene Hyland

Carlton Women’s Coach Damien Keeping (centre) flanked by assistant coaches Shane Watson and Dale Amos, men’s coach Brendon Bolton and assistants Tim Clarke and John Barker at Ikon Park. Picture: Eugene HylandSource:News Corp Australia

It’s expected Melbourne will secure the game’s highest profile player in Daisy Pearce while star forward Katie Brennan is consider a shoo-in to join the Western Bulldogs, where she’s starred in AFL ­exhibition games.

“I think there’s six or seven that probably everyone will want,” Keeping said yesterday.

Keeping’s first coaching role was leading his son Jack at under-9 level. The bug bit and he rose through the ranks to eventually become an assistant coach at under-18 TAC Cup side Calder Cannons.

He landed the job coaching the Western Bulldogs women this year after working with the VWFL women’s academy program.

Keeping said he was grateful to the Western Bulldogs for the chance to coach their side this year, but he was excited by what the Blues had to offer.

“The learning opportunity that I’m going to have here is really significant,” Keeping said. “To work with the people that are here and under the culture that is here is going to be super exciting.

“I report directly to (Blues’ football manager) Andrew McKay but right through this process there’s been an absolute whole-of-club commitment by Carlton that has been really, really impressive.

“Brendon Bolton and Neil Craig were part of the interview process. They spent a significant amount of time and really understanding how I learnt and what they could do to help me learn.”

The AFL will hold a draft to complete each team’s list, which is expected to be in ­October, with players invited to nominate online from mid-September.

Keeping is keen for his side to meet Collingwood in Round 1 of the ground-breaking league in February.

“I hope that we build those sort of rivalries,” he said.

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