Halt AFLW expansion for five years: Kearney

“In terms of the product, I think it’s probably stagnated a little bit, and it will probably continue to stagnate until the league can settle. I’m not sure when the AFL want to introduce the next four teams – I think they’re looking in the next three or four years.

“You’ve just got to let it settle for, I reckon, the next five years.”

Kearney said the talent coming through was not going to be strong enough to keep up with expansion that happened faster than that.

And said she wasn’t surprised by Richmond’s disappointing start in the AFLW competition.

“It’s really hard to start a new team and expect [them] to perform,” Kearney said. “With the length of the pre-season – the players are just starting to get to know each other, let alone get to know each other [in] how they play on the field. So it is a difficult thing.

“But also, they’ve been struck with a lot of injuries. I think going into this round against St Kilda, they’re having to rely on some of their train-on players.

“So we’ve got a squad of 30, but we also have train-on players, who in case we’ve got too many injuries, they’ve got to play instead.

“A lot of the clubs still rely on their big stars to win them games. And unfortunately for Richmond, Katie Brennan is still dealing with her concussion and that’s a big out for them. I think for Richmond and West Coast, it’s the injuries that have prevented them from … reaching their full potential.

“It’s the reality of the competition that the talent’s not there, and unfortunately they probably didn’t get the draft picks that other clubs, say like the Western Bulldogs, did.”

Kearney agreed that the size of grounds that women played on had a big impact on low scores.

“I think the AFL’s looking at the size of the grounds and what the standard size should be. We look at Ikon Park [where many women’s games are played] and that ground’s enormous. So there’s so much space for us to play, which for someone like me who loves to run and carry the ball, it’s great. But in terms of the average length of kicks, it’s too far,” she said.

“It’s going to take four to five kicks to get to the other end, as opposed to if we played on a smaller ground. We played at North Hobart Oval … perfect size ground for women’s footy, and we were able to score more freely.”

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