Caroline Wilson slams Stephen Rowe over Daisy Pearce, Erin Phillips AFLW awards debate

The footy world has once again been split down state lines over an honor for two of the biggest names the AFLW has ever seen.

Calls for AFLW star Daisy Pearce to have one of the sport’s biggest honors named after her have sparked fierce debate.

The AFLW’s Brownlow Medal equivalent is named the AFLW Best and Fairest Award, while the Norm Smith equivalent is the AFLW Grand Final Best on Ground.

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But debate has erupted over renaming the awards after Melbourne Demons skipper Pearce and Adelaide Crows champion Erin Phillips.

Speaking on Adelaide’s FIVEaa on Monday, former footy player turned radio host Stephen Rowe slammed the Victorian media for pushing a Pearce agenda after the Crows beat the Demons in Saturday’s Grand Final to win the club’s third AFLW premiership.

“The VFL media, the VFL themselves — I don’t call them the AFL now — wanting Daisy Pearce, Daisy Pearce!” Rowe exclaimed.

“Daisy Pearce wouldn’t carry or hold Erin Phillips’ bags to the game let alone put her in the same breath.

“Daisy Pearce, fantastic VFL player, her record in the VFL … we’ve got players in the SANFL equally as good.

“Erin’s won three flags, two AFLW B&Fs, MVP in two of those Grand Finals, a three-time All-Australian. I can go on and on and on. Daisy wouldn’t carry her bags.

“They don’t hand premierships (out) Melbourne, Victorian-centric media to people like Daisy, you’ve got to earn it and our girls earn it.”

They were comments that caught the attention of Caroline Wilson, who blasted the radio host.

“What a pity, Stephen, that you couldn’t fly the flag for Erin Phillips without denigrating one of the game’s other greats in Daisy Pearce,” Wilson said on Footy Classified on Monday night.

“What a pity that parochial chip on the South Australian, Adelaide Crows’ shoulder demonstrated and played havoc with your good manners.

“I would say that the majority of your so-called ‘VFL media’ would agree that Erin Phillips deserves a significant medal named after her after yet another magnificent season. But I doubt many of them would be guilty of the parochialism of you and your Adelaide Crows media cronies.

“Erin Phillips is one of the game’s greats. She is the greatest AFLW footballer the game has seen.

“Daisy too is a champion for a host of different reasons. A pioneer who led Melbourne into its first Grand Final and ran out onto the Adelaide Oval on Saturday with her two toddler twins in what might be her last AFLW game.

“But as I say, comparisons are odious. Stephen, don’t confuse theater for a lack of grace. This Victorian-bashing has got to stop.”

Wilson said she has no doubt Phillips will have a major medal named after her, whether it be the best on ground in the Grand Final or the AFLWs best and fairest.

Last week on the AFL Daily podcast, reporter and presenter Sarah Olle said: “I would love to see the Brownlow equivalent, the best and fairest named after Daisy Pearce and the Norm Smith equivalent I’d love to see it named after Erin Phillips, who has been best on ground in two premierships.

“I couldn’t really think of someone better to name these two awards after.”

Damian Barrett replied: “I can’t imagine one person across the AFL industry … that would have an issue with either of those players having those awards named after them.”

Pearce, 33, won three Melbourne best and fairest awards, is a three-time All-Australian and was named AFLW Players’ best captain four times, including after taking the 2019 season off to have her twins.

She also had a huge VFLW career before the AFLW began, winning 10 premierships for Darebin and claiming six Helen Lambert Medals as VWFL premier division’s best and fairest player.

That award is now named the Lambert–Pearce Medal partially in her honour.

Beyond that, Pearce has also become an expert commentator on Channel 7’s AFL coverage and SEN’s AFL-Nation.

Since the beginning of the AFLW, the now 36-year-old Phillips has been a revelation, leading the Crows to three premierships, earning three All-Australian guernseys, winning two league best and fairest awards and claiming two Grand Final best on grounds.


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