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Demons to embrace AFLW favourite status

Melbourne are embracing the tag of AFLW premiership favourites and plan to use the pain of last season’s grand final loss as motivation.

The Demons will enter the second season of 2022 with a burning desire for a breakthrough flag after being outplayed by Adelaide in the April season decider.

After making their first grand final, Melbourne have assumed premiership favouritism from the Crows after superstar Erin Phillips’ move to cross-town rivals Port Adelaide.

Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce said the Demons were treating carrying the hunted tag as a “privilege”.

Eight of the 18 club captains picked Melbourne to reach a second-straight grand final, ahead of the Brisbane Lions with five.

“I sort of felt like we came away empty handed initially (after the grand final loss) but then I realised we developed a true sense of belief that we’re good enough,” Pearce told AAP.

“I don’t think that guarantees anything but it’s something you have to go out and build and I feel like we’ve got that now.

“I would expect us to get better but so will the whole competition.”

Melbourne open their season with a trip back to Adelaide to face the Crows at Glenelg Oval on Friday night in a blockbuster grand final rematch.

They will play again just 139 days after the last decider, with the AFLW season moving away from the heat of summer to an August start.

“The short turnaround has been good in many ways,” Pearce said.

“The hurt and disappointment of losing a grand final, that normally would have gone on for much longer.

“It’s been a blessing to let yourself feel those feelings of hurt but then turn your attention to what’s next and the opportunity we have this season.”

Pearce, 34, is coming towards the end of her illustrious playing career but is not willing to put an end date on it.

The star midfielder will take up a coaching role with Geelong once her playing days are over.

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