Most athletes are happy to excel in one discipline where they are able to ascend to the elite level. Georgie Cleaver, who on Monday night joined the West Coast Eagles AFLW list via the draft, could reach the pinnacle in two sports.
An Australian under-19 netballer who is honing those skills with West Coast Fever is now looking to excel on the football field and is keen to balance her two sporting loves.
Cleaver, who comes from a gifted family where she and brother Jack both played in senior WAFL premierships with East Fremantle in 2023, could not hide a cherubic smile as she fronted the media today.
A versatile player who could a fill a number of roles at the Eagles she’s delighted to be at a club that has strong family support.
At 181cm she has the size and athleticism to play in the ruck and as a key forward and showed her attributes as a member of the AFL National Academy where she experienced first-hand the prowess of new Eagles senior coach Daisy Pearce.
“It feels surreal. I’m still trying to get it to sink in but I am so grateful for the opportunity I have been given,” Cleaver said after being snared with pick 39 in the draft.
“I thought the Eagles had a few selections before the Dockers so I thought it was a possibility. I had her (Pearce) coach me last year in the AFLW Academy which was amazing, she was such a good coach so heaps happy to meet her again and have her coach me.
“Hopefully I can balance both sports, I have been doing it my whole life. With Fever speaking to the Eagles I hope I can do both, play footy and netball. I had a few discussions before I got drafted.
“Netball you can play for your country, but they both offer different things. With footy once you get drafted you want to get games under your belt.”
Cleaver is a part of a revamped list that has seen a third of the squad overhauled in recent weeks. Although she was selected with pick #39 the AFLW draft has a point of difference with the men’s version as there is the ability to nominate for either a national or State pool.
As Cleaver nominated in the WA draft only the Eagles or Fremantle had access to her. She made that decision to keep open the netball option but had she nominated in the national pool it is understood many clubs rated her as a top 10 prospect.
She is familiar with some of her teammates and is looking forward to getting down to work with some of them to help the Eagles work their way up the ladder.
“I’m really excited to see where it goes,” she said. “I have played with Ella Roberts, Emily Elkington and Abby Bushy so I’m keen to play with them again.
“Netball being a fast-paced sport I think I bring speed and agility. I’m pretty athletic so I can bring those traits and being quite tall I can bring the aerial skills. But I have got things I need to work on, my kicking and finishing off my possessions.
“I’m so excited and so fortunate that I am in this position.”
The sign and trade period, as well as the draft, has brought an exciting blend of youth and experience to the club.
On draft night the Eagles secured two young midfielders – Jess Rentsch (#2 GWV Rebels) and Kayley Kavanagh (#14 Calder Cannons) as well as experienced utility player Matilda Sergeant (#42 Claremont) who played 19 games for Fremantle.
In addition the club secured exciting forward Roxy Roux (Fremantle), experienced forward Ali Drennan (Gold Coast), polished defender Annabel Johnson (Geelong), West Coast Fever star Verity Simmons and de-listed free agent midfielder Jess Hoskings (Richmond).