There are very few things dual-sport star Jess Duffin hasn’t achieved or encountered in a career that dates back to 2006.

Things started in the mid 2000s when the now 34-year-old began her cricketing career for Victoria as a teenager, impressing in multiple disciplines.

By 2009, she made her international debut for the Aussies – part of 117 appearances for her country across all three formats – during which she won multiple World Cups alongside the likes of Ellyse Perry and Meg Lanning.

But when the AFLW’s inception came in 2017, Duffin was quick to switch to football – a sport she had played during her formative years until a lack of pathways for girls through the 1990s barred her from  continuing to play the game

She was selected by the Pies in the maiden AFLW Draft with pick 75 and played in the inaugural game of the league between the Pies and the Blues.

She played two years at the Pies, before moving on to North Melbourne and Hawthorn, and she continued to play cricket again in-between – namely for the Melbourne Renegades in the WBBL.

That was as recent as last season, but the dual-code icon has now ticked a new achievement off her bucket-list, signing on as the Backs Development Coach for Collingwood’s AFLW side ahead of the 2024 season.


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It was a connection to new AFLW Senior Coach Sam Wright that sparked the move, with Duffin long harbouring a desire to step into the coaching space.

“I did a little bit of work with Wrighty (Sam Wright) through the Renegades. Obviously, he was coaching at North Melbourne last season and when I was playing for the Renegades, we got talking,” she said.

“I had a few questions about North and what was happening there so that’s how the connection between Wrighty and I started.

“I had some really good conversations with him around what it might look like for me this season and what I wanted to do. He was really supportive of my cricket commitments and what I wanted to do with cricket as well and I decided to go with coaching in footy.

 “I did some coaching at Hawthorn as well and just some leadership things with their group there last season while I was pregnant.

“I’ve kind of always wanted to do it, but I wasn't really sure how to start or anything like that, so I kind of fell into it I guess.”

The role will see Duffin step into a new-look AFLW coaching panel, with the likes of current Collingwood VFL player Tom Wilson joining as Head of Development and former three-club AFL player Daniel Currie signing as the Forwards Assistant Coach.


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Duffin will work most closely with 112-game AFL star Dom Tyson who is the Backs Assistant Coach – someone who has immediately made her feel welcome at the AIA Vitality Centre.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise, but they've been really welcoming and I haven't felt out of place at all,” she said.

“Walking into the building, I was really nervous and Dom and even some of the other coaches as well, they've welcomed me and been really supportive, throwing me into a couple of drills which has been nice.

“Having them there and knowing that they are very supportive and just want to get the best out of me, I'm really comfortable here and confident going forward to work with Dom especially.”

It’s a unique situation for Duffin to step back into the Club she played 13 games for throughout 2017-2018, with her former teammates Brit Bonnici, Ruby Schleicher and Stacey Livingstone still out on the track.

But that means there’s a lot of new people and players for Duffin to get to know as well, with the two-time All Australian recognising a lot has changed in the league and game since its first few years.

“I think there’s the three inaugural players that are still there, but there's a lot of people that I have to get to know,” she said.

“The playing group has been really good and they're all very welcoming - they want to get to know you just as much as you want to get to know them.

“Obviously the game has grown massively considering where we were at the start to now, some of these players basically have a full-time wage at the moment which is really nice.

“It means that they can concentrate purely on footy and make sure that they've got the elite standards throughout the whole 12 months instead of just the few that they're contracted.

“It means that you're in the Club more, and you've got those resources around you to be better off, so it's just going to get better and better from here.”


Having only finished playing for the Hawks in 2022, Duffin said it might take some time to get used to being a coach during drills, but she’s already excited about working with a number of players that she’s seen glimpses of over her time.

“I kind of get the itch a little bit when I'm doing drills, I kind of want to jump in.I’m hoping they might just let me run around in a couple. I'm very competitive so once I step into a drill, I'm not sure I will know how to be a coach instead of a player,” Duffin laughed.

“I haven't really had much to do with Bri Davey before – I’ve come across her every now and then throughout our journey but just talking to her about where the game is now and where it was, has been great.

“Bully (Mikala Cann) was really good in some drills the other the other day and is competitive, so I like the way she goes about it.

“I’m looking forward to really getting to know more of the backline and helping them take the game forward.”