Retiring Hawthorn vice-captain, Jess Duffin, has stunned her teammates by revealing she played the most recent AFLW season pregnant.
Duffin is expecting a second baby with her partner, Chris, in May next year and told her teammates on Tuesday she had been keeping the baby news under wraps since the team’s camp earlier in 2022.
WATCH VIDEO: captain announces pregnancy.
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“Camp was a pretty good moment for me because, if you ask Kashy (Kaitlyn Ashmore) or Gilly (Aileen Gilroy), I’ve probably never smiled or laughed that much throughout a pre-season or season,” Duffin said when addressing her teammates in a club theatrette.
“I had some really good fun there but there is one moment I captured throughout the time…”
Duffin then showed a picture on a screen of her young daughter, Georgie, with a sign: “Coming soon to May 2023 – Our little family will grow by one – Baby Duffin #2”. The room erupted as her shocked and ecstatic teammates hugged the expecting mother.
Duffin is an inaugural AFLW player, having previously been with Collingwood and North Melbourne.
The 33-year-old is also an established cricketer, captaining the Melbourne Renegades in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) and making the Team of the Tournament in 2019.
The dual All-Australian is one of a growing list of AFLW players who have balanced pregnancy and parenting, taking one season off to give birth to her first child.
Melbourne skipper Daisy Pearce returned to training ahead of the 2020 season (season 4) after giving birth to twins Sylvie and Roy, and Brisbane’s Sharni Webb gave birth to her first child last year and signed a new contract with the Lions in the same week.
The current AFLW Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) includes a ‘pregnancy and parental management travel policy’ which reads: “A player who chooses not to play or is not certified fit to play as a result of the Player’s pregnancy will continue to receive full payment during the Term of the Player’s Standard Playing Agreement in accordance with her Standard Playing Agreement.”
The AFL has advised 7NEWS.com.au that once the child is born, the player is placed on the inactive list and paid in full.
This is the process which Webb, Pearce and Duffin (with her first child) were all covered, with the Hawk opting to retire this time.
The policy also says: “No information, other than whether the Player is fit to play and train, will be disclosed to the Club by the Club medical officer during the Player’s first trimester without the Player’s express consent.
“After the first trimester the Club medical officer may provide all relevant information to Club and AFL personnel on a ‘need to know’ basis as required. This information will otherwise be kept confidential unless the express consent of the Player is provided. Announcements regarding the Player’s pregnancy will only be made in consultation with the Player.”
The news comes as English footballer Toni Duggan (76 caps for England) is set to become the first Women’s Super League footballer to take maternity leave, telling BBC sport: “I don’t think women’s football is ready for women to be pregnant.”
Duggan said she felt she had to lie to teammates in the early stages of pregnancy about missing training and games, saying she had a back injury instead.
Legislation was introduced for the first time this season to permit players’ maternity leave with full pay and any other remuneration for the first 14 weeks, prior to this it was not compulsory.
In an instagram post, Duggan said “one of the biggest challenges” was hiding the news from her team.
“While my own little team is growing, I’ll still be supporting my other one, @EvertonWomen”
“It’s not so common in our environment for this to happen so that was quite tough initially.
“I had to tell the coach before I told my mum. That was different and new.
“It was something I wouldn’t have wanted to do, but as a professional footballer, I had to.”
As the first to bring it into effect, Duggan said ‘it was definitely a move that they needed to do … I find it crazy that it’s only just been put in place now.”
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