Melbourne says the rumours around Tayla Harris’ pay packet were “wildly incorrect” as the club set the record straight on the biggest trade in AFLW history.
Harris — who became the leading figure in women’s footy for taking a stance against online trolls who targeted an awesome photo of her in full flight — was in the headlines again earlier this year when it was reported she wanted $150,000 to play for Carlton next season.
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The deal was reportedly to be made up of nearly $30,000 in playing salary, with the rest coming from promotional work for the Blues.
But talks broke down between Harris and Carlton and for a while it looked like the most recognisable face in the AFLW would be without a club for next season, sparking fears she could be lost to footy and instead prioritise her burgeoning boxing career.
But late in the AFLW Trade Period a deal was struck that saw Harris join the Demons as part of a mega-trade involving seven players and five clubs.
Despite Harris’ future being decided late in the piece, Melbourne AFLW list manager Todd Patterson said there wasn’t any friction between the parties involved in getting her move across the line.
“When people see things doing down to the line they think it’s a bit argy bargy and that it’s been quite hard to negotiate,” Patterson told the Credit to the Girls podcast. “That definitely wasn’t the case.
“It’s just there’s certain things you need to wait on. Players from other clubs and our club needed to decide what they wanted to do and they’re big decisions for these players.
“The dealings with Carlton, they were fantastic and we’ve got a really good relationship with them. We’ve done a few deals with them over the last could of years and I hope they’d be happy with the way we handled it.
“Sometimes it just takes a little bit longer for these things to evolve.”
Harris in full flight is something special.Source:News Corp Australia
This is the snap that made Harris a household name. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)Source:Supplied
Elaborating on suggestions Harris wanted $150,000 to stay in the AFLW, Patterson said those figures were way off the mark — but acknowledged the publicity generated by debates around the 24-year-old’s next move represented a boost for women’s footy.
“I actually think it’s a really good thing for women’s footy, everything that went down,” Patterson said.
“The media speculation around her pay packet was so wildly incorrect I couldn’t believe it. From the outset the conversations we had with her management — the numbers were a long way away from what was being mentioned.
“I think it was a really positive conversation that maybe a female footballer’s worth $150,000 and maybe it’s time we start talking about these girls in that light for what they bring to the game.
“If you go to any junior football club, boys and girls, I’m pretty confident they’ll know who Tayla Harris is so I think it was a really healthy discussion. But like I said the numbers were quite disproportionate.”
There were plenty of critics wanting to cut Harris down to size when her alleged pay demand was first reported. She became the face of the league because of her starring role in one of footy’s most iconic photos — men’s or women’s — but was well down on form last season for the Blues. Many said performances, not reputation or popularity, should determine what a player is worth.
But the media buzz generated by the saga never made its way inside the four walls at Melbourne, Patterson adamant the club didn’t listen to the outside noise.
“Not at all … no bearing at all, we just go about our business. It’s entertaining to read what people are thinking and saying but what I’m learning is the truth is quite different … the reality of what we’re living is quite different to what gets publicised and that’s just the reality,” Patterson said.
“Unfortunately the media, they’re not living it and they’re not in the inner sanctum like we are so it’s a funny one that.”
Harris was down on form last season.Source:News Corp Australia
Harris was dropped during the last season and reports emerged about concerns with her attitude, with one story claiming she left the training paddock early to post on Instagram.
But Melbourne has no issues with the version of Harris it’s seen since her arrival.
“We’re thrilled to have her. She’s a fantastic young woman. I’d say she’s reasonably misunderstood but I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent with her so far and I’m looking forward to spending more with her,” Patterson said on Credit to the Girls.
“We just want her to be one of our 30 (players) and she’s really clear on that. Unfortunately through her own ability there’s been this persona built up and this expectation built up of what she needs to do.
“But for us it’s pretty simple: Be in play, work hard, train hard. Crash packs. If you kick goals, brilliant. If not we know we’ve got the girls at ground level to help her out.
“We don’t expect anyone to be a superstar or do anything crazy. We just want everyone pulling in the right direction and Tayla’s well on board that. Her actions and behaviours so far couldn’t have reaffirmed that any more to us.”
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