The Western Bulldogs have bolstered their AFLW coaching panel for the 2021 season, with the arrival of Natalie Wood.

Wood has accepted an assistant coaching role with the Bulldogs after spending the last four years with Geelong, most recently as the Cats’ AFLW midfield coach and its VFLW head coach.

It will be a VU Whitten Oval reunion for Wood, who played for the Bulldogs in the AFL Women’s exhibition matches in 2013 and 2014 (alongside current Dogs’ defender Lauren Spark), towards the end of her glittering playing career.

Wood’s coaching experience also includes being an assistant coach in the AFLW Under 18 All Stars match in 2017, and an assistant coach with Vic Country in the AFL Women’s Under 18 National Championships in 2018.

“We’re thrilled to have someone of Natalie’s calibre join our coaching group for next season,” said Bulldogs’ General Manager of Women’s Football, Debbie Lee.

“Natalie is highly respected in women’s football for what she has been able to achieve as both a coach and a player for over two decades.

“She will be a great support for our emerging playing group, and will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role.”

Wood enjoyed a brilliant 16-year career as a player, which included 190 games and three premierships combined with the Darebin Falcons and Melbourne University.

She was a 10-time state representative and a three-time All-Australian, before she retired at the end of 2014. 

Wood also has 15 years of experience as a secondary school teacher, including as an assistant principal, and has her Masters of School Leadership.