Hope dabs eternal in AFL women’s league

Whatever happens on the field, Moana Hope is already the AFL women’s league player who taught Gillon McLachlan how to dab.

Hope announced herself on Wednesday as the first cult figure of the inaugural league, which starts next February.

She was among 16 players announced as the marquee signings for the eight clubs.

Rather than shake the AFL chief executive’s hand when she walked on stage at the media conference in Melbourne, Hope and McLachlan greeted each other with a dab.

It is a hip-hop move that has become popular as a celebration, particularly in the NFL and NBA.

Asked about Hope’s personality, McLachlan laughed and replied: “You can tell straight away – the dabbing wasn’t my idea. I didn’t know what dabbing was.”

Hope would have stood out regardless, given her right arm is covered in tattoos.

She grew up in Broadmeadows – Eddie McGuire territory – and naturally will play for Collingwood.

McLachlan immediately nicknamed her “Mo Swan” after the much-inked Magpies Brownlow Medallist.

“Dane Swan’s a legend, so I’m happy with that, and I’m happy to dab any time,” Hope said of the obvious comparison.

“I’m just blessed – I’m blessed with this opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”

She said McLachlan acquitted himself well in his dabbing debut.

“There was a lot of explaining and then there was a lot of practising,” she said.

“He did pretty well for his first time. I think he held it too long, but I was impressed.”

And like Swan, there is much more to Hope than tattoos and an engaging personality.

“Mo is a super-talented forward. She’s winning the goalkicking by a long stretch in the VFL,” said Melbourne star Daisy Pearce.

“I don’t how many goalkicking awards she’s won.”

Pearce famously said last month she would play for Melbourne or no one else and the midfielder is rapt that the women’s marquee signings are now known.

“I’ve been saying for a long time that my face and my story isn’t the only story out there,” she said.

“There are some wonderful stories among all those girls who were picked today.

“They are all really deserving selections.”

Victoria, which will have four teams in the women’s league, and Western Australia lead the way in player development.

So rather than concentrate too much talent in the Fremantle side, several top WA players will move interstate.

Of the 16 players named on Wednesday, Fremantle’s pair and seven others are from WA.

“If they had all remained in the one team, it would have been a very dominant team,” Pearce said.

“For equalisation and the competition, it’s not a bad thing that a few those girls are looking for opportunities elsewhere.”

THE AFL WOMEN’S LEAGUE 16 MARQUEE PLAYERS:

ADELAIDE

Chelsea Randall (25, WA, forward)

Kellie Gibson (20, WA, forward)

BRISBANE

Tayla Harris (19, Qld, ruck-forward)

Sabrina Frederick-Traub (20, WA, ruck-forward)

CARLTON

Brianna Davey (21, WA, utility)

Darcy Vescio (23, Vic, key forward)

COLLINGWOOD

Moana Hope (28, Vic, key forward)

Emma King (22, WA, ruck)

FREMANTLE

Kara Donnellan (24, WA, midfielder)

Kiara Bowers (24, WA, midfielder)

GWS

Renee Forth (29, WA, midfielder)

Emma Swanson (21, WA, midfielder)

MELBOURNE

Daisy Pearce (28, Vic, midfielder)

Mel Hickey (31, Vic, defender)

WESTERN BULLDOGS

Katie Brennan (23, Vic, forward)

Ellie Blackburn (21, Vic, midfielder)

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