Dani Laidley confirms interest in return to coaching with vacant AFLW job on cards

The former North Melbourne head coach is ready to return and is targeting the West Coast AFLW job.

Pictured Dani Laidley and West Coast AFLW team celebrating a goal
Former North Melbourne head coach Dani Laidley is strongly considering a return to coaching, eyeing up the newly vacant West Coast AFLW job. Image: Getty

Former North Melbourne head coach Dani Laidley has confirmed she has her eyes set on the newly vacant West Coast AFLW job. The 56-year-old played 151 AFL matches across a 10-year career with the Eagles and North Melbourne, winning a premiership with the latter in 1996.

After her playing career she had a seven-year coaching tenure with the Kangaroos which spanned 149 games from 2003 to 2009. She later held positions at Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Carlton as an assistant coach in 2015.

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Sports commentator Tim Gossage took to Twitter on Tuesday to reveal Laidley was 'seriously considering' applying for the West Coast AFLW job after Michael Prior stood down. On SEN WA Breakfast, Gossage said Laidley is eager to return in a coaching role and wants the West Coast job.

"I'll go as far to say my information is that it'll be over to the West Coast Eagles to decide whether Dani Ladley is their next coach," Gossage said. "I 100 per cent believe Dani Laidley is committed to return to coaching.

"Not to a point where she wants to be full-time at the AFL men's level, but Laidley mixes time between Perth and Melbourne, so it's either going to be North Melbourne or West Coast where she was going to put her hand up. "She wants to coach again, has great footy intel (intelligence) … she believes she is ready to get back into coaching at a high level and AFLW would be it. That's as the senior coach, not assistant, but as senior coach. She is a very good coach."

Dani Laidley and Gillon McLachlan pictured together
Dani Laidley pictured with AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan at the 2023 NAB AFLW Season Launch. Image: Getty (Jonathan DiMaggio/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Dani Laidley confirms desire to return to coaching

Confirming the reports on Thursday, Laidley told SEN: “We've been waiting until the documentary ('Danielle Laidley: Two Tribes') came out because I was contracted for that. It's been a passion of mine and I've sort of been ready for about 12 months and even actually for this AFLW season, I was asked to do a coaching role at one of the Melbourne teams. But I couldn't because I was contracted for the doco. People have connected the dots, West Coast have got a position available and yes, I want to coach again.

“But let's not put the cart before the horse. It's very easy to as I say, connect those dots. But it’s true (my ambition to return) it's been a few years now in the making.

“West Coast is the only club at the moment that don’t have a coach for their women's team. There may be some other clubs in Melbourne as well who make a decision not to go with their coach. It sounds like a good fit. But there could be some other things happening down the track. I'm just being prepared for any scenario.”

In this season's Gather Round, Laidley attended the West Coast training session where she was pictured speaking to star players including Andrew Gaff as well as Eagles boss Adam Simpson. In numerous interviews this year she has said she is open to a return to coaching.

Dani Laidley and partner Donna Leckie.
Dani Laidley and partner Donna Leckie at the 2022 Brownlow Medal. (Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage) (Sam Tabone via Getty Images)

'Filled with joy': Dani Laidley on support since transition

Laidley made headlines three years ago when it was revealed that the former defender had transitioned. Speaking recently to News Corp, the prominent LGBTQI+ figure revealed she had been overwhelmed with support from former players and coaches.

Laidley said her former Kangaroos teammates and West Coast legend Mick Malthouse had reached out to her and reconnected after her transition. Malthouse coached Laidley at the Eagles and when Laidley met him at an AFL game last June, the Eagles great told her he was proud of what she had done.

"I turn and there he (Malthouse) is standing with his arms out and he says: 'Give me a hug'. We had a hug and he said: 'Gee, you're looking great, I'm really proud of you,'" Laidley told News Corp. 'That's the type of person Mick Malthouse is. It filled me with joy.'

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