Bendigo Spirit star Kerryn Harrington joins Carlton AFL Women’s team

BENDIGO Spirit guard Kerryn Harrington will turn her hand from top-level basketball to football following her signing with Carlton's AFL Women's team.

Harrington, who has played the last two WNBL seasons with the Spirit, was announced on Tuesday as one of two rookie-listed players to be signed by the Blues during the opening days of the AFLW trade week period.

The other is former Gisborne and VNL netballer Maddison Gay.

Blues women's coach Damien Keeping said he was thrilled to have the duo bound to the Blues.

“We believe Maddison and Kerryn will help drive elite standards amongst our playing group,” Keeping said.

“Maddison is an outside-mid with great balance, while Kerryn is an inside-mid who covers the ground exceptionally well. 

“They’re both still learning the game but we’re confident they’ll be really exciting prospects for the club.” 

Harrington is only months into her football career, after joining Spirit assistant coach Andrea Walsh at the Bendigo Thunder for the 2017 season.

The 25-year-old physiotherapy student has been one of the prime movers in the Thunder midfield during their outstanding 4-0 start to the inaugural Northern Football League Women's season.

It is not known at this point what her signing with Carlton means for Harrington in terms of her WNBL career, but she said she was looking forward to the new opportunities.

“It has all happened so quickly, it’s been a real whirlwind,” she said.

“This wasn’t something I sought, it sought me. 

"I am still thinking through how it will all play out in spring and summer.

“If there is an opportunity to still play at the Spirit this season, I will certainly try and make it happen.”

Harrington joins an already strong cast of former Thunder players at the Blues, headed by 2017 season draftees Bella Ayre and Sarah Last, and free agent acquisitions Hayley Trevean and Jess Kennedy.

The Spirit were among the first to congratulate Harrington on reaching the AFL Women's league.

Spirit coach Simon Pritchard said Kerryn was an elite athlete and would do well in the AFL

“Kerryn blitzed the AFL tests and had almost every club chasing her,” he said.

“She went into the tests with our full blessing and we wish her well. She will be a great asset for any club and the sport.

“It is fantastic to see yet another Bendigo athlete gaining attention on the national stage, and another local footballer playing with the mighty Blues.”

Pritchard reiterated it was too early to tell what the deal would mean for the coming WNBL season.

“Even though Kerryn has only played a handful of footy games, with the success of Erin Phillips this year, athletes like Kerryn are in high demand,” he said.

“Most AFL clubs have indicated to multi-code athletes they are happy with their players continuing in their other sport if there aren’t conflicts.

“We will speak with Kerryn and Carlton in the next few months about the 2017-18 WNBL season.”

Harrington, a former two-time Australian under-19 basketball representative, has spent nine seasons in total in the WNBL, which has included stints at the AIS and Adelaide Lightning.

Meanwhile, Gay, who played netball with Gisborne last season, joins Carlton from St Kilda Sharks, where she is playing her first season of football.

She is also playing VNL with Melbourne University Lightning's division one team.