Rugby League

Kade Simpson to remain at Carlton as a coach

Retired Carlton stalwart Kade Simpson will not be lost to the club, with the long-time defender signing on to serve as an assistant coach in the Blues' AFLW program.

Simpson, 36, retired at the end of the 2020 men’s season after 342 games with Carlton, the third-most in Blues history.

Kade Simpson puts Blues players through their paces.Credit:Marni Olsson Young

But his absence from Ikon Park will be short-lived, with the 2013 best and fairest back on deck already after agreeing to coach the Blues' forwards under AFLW senior coach Daniel Harford.

Simpson will also be an assistant coach for the club's reserves in the new second-tier men’s competition next year.

He joins an AFLW team that made the grand final in 2019 and had been one of four sides left standing when the 2020 season ended prematurely because of the escalating coronavirus crisis.

Simpson said he was doubly pleased to remain in football as well as with his long-time club.

Simpson in action for the Blues earlier this year, before his retirement.Credit:Getty Images

"The last few years have shown what our AFLW side is capable of and I'm really looking forward to helping these players bring the ultimate success to the Carlton Football Club," Simpson said.

"This is a really talented group who work extremely hard, so there is plenty of reasons for our members and supporters to get right behind this side heading into the 2021 season.

"The chance to also work with the reserves program, primarily with the younger players on our AFL list, is a great opportunity. I've seen first-hand how hard those players are working to bring success to Carlton and the fact I can help them achieve that is fantastic.

"I'd always hoped to stay involved in football once I retired. To be able to not only do that but also remain with the Blues is terrific and a new challenge that I can't wait to get started on."

Carlton's general manager of women's football Ash Brown said he was rapt to have secured Simpson's services for the upcoming season.

"Our players are constantly looking to learn and soak up advice from experienced people in the game, there are few in modern football who can provide that better than Kade," Brown said.

"His communication and leadership on the field was exceptional over a long period of time and we have no doubt those qualities will see Kade transition perfectly to our AFLW program, providing an invaluable sounding board for our emerging group.

"Also there isn't a person over the last 20 years who is more suited to passing on to our players what it means to be a Carlton person and the significance of pulling on that navy blue guernsey.

"We could not be happier to have Kade on board and it is yet another strong sign of the unified approach we have taken in bringing our AFL and AFLW programs together."

AFLW players have returned to training ahead of a scheduled February start to the 2021 season, which is slated to include nine home-and-away rounds plus three weekends of finals and could feature hubs.

"We need to have contingencies for the uncertainty," AFL chief Gillon McLachlan said on Friday.

"We know that we need to have a fixture out in the first week of December, that's the latest they can wait before they make decisions about work, their employment.

"If we need to we can go into hubs, our preference is not to, but we'll have the contingencies together in case."

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