Western Bulldogs president Peter Gordon admits the club is “hurting” following several key departures from its AFLW side.
Belinda Smith (West Coast), Selena Karlson (St Kilda), Tiarna Ernst (Gold Coast) and former captain Katie Brennan (Richmond) all completed moves away from Whitten Oval.
To make matters worse, last season's Best and Fairest winner Monique Conti is expected to join Brennan at the Tigers.
While lamenting the player exodus, Gordon accepted that expansion clubs must be able to acquire talent from the eight foundation teams, and players are within their right to explore their options.
“It’s really hard, we’re really disappointed to lose all of those players,” Gordon told SEN Afternoons.
“These women are professionals; they’re professional footballers and we’ve been sympathetic to the fact that they don’t really get paid in the way that they ought to.
“People have talked about loyalty … but we should really respect their right to get the best deal that they can.
“I don’t want to sound to saintly about it, because we’re hurting at the Bulldogs. I feel a bit of sympathy for the Brisbane side as well … they’ve been decimated by this process, but we do consider ourselves to be leaders in this area.
“If you believe in the concept and if you believe that it will apply across 18 clubs and if you believe in principals of competitive balance, then as one of the foundation clubs, you’ve got to accept that new clubs have got to have a right to access some of this talent.”
The secondary Sign and Trade Period runs from April 23-26, allowing AFLW clubs to swap players and exchange draft picks.
Listen to Peter Gordon's chat on SEN Afternoons with Andy Maher in the player below