Rhiannon Watt, Kate Shierlaw and Cat Phillips will have their names etched into the history books after being announced as the first ever St Kilda AFLW captains.
Senior Coach Peta Searle said the three women were voted in by their peers, with the shared club captaincy to draw on their individual strengths as leaders.
“Last year in the VFLW we trialed a multi-captain system and really liked the impact it had,” Searle said.
“These three women were elected because of the way they exemplify and encourage the growth of the culture we’re creating here at the Saints.
“We’ve found that the female players really respond to shared leadership, which promotes greater connection and autonomy, rather than one you would find in a traditional hierarchical system.
“The part-time professional nature of AFLW allows for multiple captains to share accountabilities for duties and we’re really excited to apply it.
“Rhiannon is a natural ‘people person’. Her emotional intelligence is off the charts and her ability to unite the group and make everyone feel like they belong is second to none.
“Kate is a footy-head and vocal director on-field. She takes the time to help her teammates not only execute during games, but during meetings and training.
“Cat’s professionalism and the standards that she sets for herself and those around her is first class. She has integrity in spades and is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, or for the rights of those around her.
“I’m really confident in the direction this team will head under the leadership of Rhiannon, Kate and Cat.”
31-year-old Shierlaw said the reality of her appointment was yet to sink in.
“I was pretty shocked when I found out, but also pretty proud. To know that you’ve got the backing of your teammates is a pretty special feeling,” Shierlaw said.
“I think the best thing about having the three of us as captains is that we enable the people around us to bring their strengths as well, so it won’t just be the three of us up the top, it will be the whole team.”
Phillips echoed Shierlaw’s sentiments, saying her elevation to captain felt “pretty incredible”.
“Eight months ago I never would have thought I’d be here, so the show of faith from the girls in voting for me is really incredible. I feel very proud and honoured,” Phillips said.
“One of the things that I really value about our team and the club here is that we really empower all of the people within the club to bring their unique personality and bring everything that they can, and working with Rhi and Kate will really add to that.
“The three of us all have different strengths and really have a lot of respect for each other. I can’t wait to get into it alongside them.”
Lifelong Saints fan Watt said the enormity of starting a new chapter for the club as an inaugural AFLW captain had not been lost on her.
“Every time you walk in through RSEA Park and you see the faces on the wall, it’s really an eye-opener to how much history belongs to this club,” Watt said.
“I hope to bring a bit of fun, a bit of care and a real enthusiasm for all the girls and try to build on our culture and team work.”
The Saints’ AFLW campaign will commence on Sunday 9 February at RSEA Park against the Western Bulldogs.
“I know a lot of people around the club are really pumped and very passionate about bringing footy back to Moorabbin, so hopefully we’ll get a big crowd down here and put on a good show,” Phillips said.
St Kilda AFLW memberships are now on sale. Visit www.saintsmembership.com.au for more info.