AFLW pundits fear Tayla Harris could be lost to the game after her high-profile bid to earn a $150,000 payday from Carlton earned short shrift from the club.
Harris, a trailblazer for the Blues in the early seasons of the AFLW, was reportedly asking for the record contract as she juggles her boxing career in addition to her football exploits.
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A disappointing 2021 season also lead to question marks over Harris' commitment, particularly in the wake of a mild controversy after she walked off the Carlton training track mid-season in order to make a sponsored Instagram post.
Her manager, Alex Saundry, has disputed the accuracy of the reported $150,000 contract request, but talks with the Blues have since broken down - leaving a switch to another club on the table.
But that switch doesn't appear to be happening anytime soon, with AFLW reporter Sarah Black suggesting even the two clubs in Harris' home state of Queensland have baulked at the chance to land the superstar forward.
Speaking on the Credit to the Girls podcast, Black said the 24-year-old's asking price wasn't just a sticking point for the Blues when asked about the widely-reported demand.
“Probably not at that asking price,” Black said when asked about interest from other clubs.
“She possesses two of the rarest strengths in women’s footy — contested marking and long kicking. So they’re huge attributes for any club.
“But as I’m making the rounds at trade period just asking a whole lot of general questions, I always go, ‘Do you have room for Tayla?’
“(Clubs say) ‘No, no, no, no’. There’s a hell of a lot of no’s out there including the two Queensland clubs. She is a Queensland native but the Lions and the Suns — that’s a no-go there as well.
“It may end up being that she may have to either walk away from footy or lower her asking price.”
Podcast co-host Lucy Watkin added the potentially more lucrative opportunities outside of football would likely be increasingly compelling to Harris, who she believes could command a fight purse worth six digits, compared to an AFLW base salary that would be worth roughly $30,000, plus other endorsement deals.
“She could command five-figure, probably soon six-figure purses for her fighting,” Watkin said. “If she was unable to get a contract I fear she would be lost to AFLW.
“I think plenty of clubs would want a Tayla Harris on their side … but I think it is just the asking price that could be the sticking point for Tayla Harris, especially considering the season she’s just come off.
“I think it’s going to be really difficult, but I don’t think it’s going to be the last time we see an issue like this crop up in the AFLW.”
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While the reported pay demand has seen Harris' detractors come out of the woodwork, the 24-year-old found a surprise ally in former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire.
Soon after the reports emerged of Harris' talks with Carlton being centred around that $150,000 figure, McGuire told Footy Classified it would be in the best interests of the league to ensure she stays around.
The ousted Magpies leader said her broader impact on the game, despite a muted on-field performance last season, was crucial for the sport and therefore worth the investment.
“The AFL, not Carlton, needs to look at whether you need to keep these people in the game," he said.
“It becomes a marketing exercise, it‘s got nothing to do with her football, it’s a pure marketing exercise.
“She is an icon already in many facets of her life and who she is and the way she plays the game.
“Is she worth $150,000 to play footy? No. Is she worth it for the game itself and what she‘s going to bring to the table? I think she’s a superstar – and I think the AFL have to look at that.”
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