SANFLW talents Jade De Melo and Jade Halfpenny have signed with Port Adelaide for the upcoming NAB AFLW season.

The talented players have both had outstanding years in the SANFLW, with De Melo capping off her season by snagging three goals for North Adelaide in Sunday’s grand final.

The pair were surprised separately with contract offers last week, after being invited to tour the club and meet with list manager Naomi Maidment.

De Melo was previously picked up by Fremantle in the 2017 draft as a rookie, but was delisted at the end of the 2018 season after just two opportunities to don the purple jumper.

Since then, she has demonstrated remarkable on-field talent at SANFL level, with the half-forward sitting inside the league top 10 for most goals in 2022.

In what feels like the perfect second chance at an AFLW career, 29-year-old De Melo shared the emotional conversation she had with Maidment.

“After the tour, I had a physical and was then expecting that to be it for the night,” De Melo recalled.

“At the end, Naomi was like ‘I have one more question…do you want in?’ I was like ‘what?!’ And I of course said yes! I don’t normally cry but I did get a little teary.”

Jade De Melo will begin the next chapter in her footballing career at Port Adelaide following stints at Fremantle and in the SANFLW. Image: Matt Sampson.

De Melo sees joining an expansion team as the perfect chance to challenge herself and get stuck back into the professionalism of the national competition.

“I feel like the first time around, it was just like a little taste (of AFLW) and I wasn’t really able to give it a good crack,” said De Melo, who also works for Santos as a mechanical engineer.

“I didn’t fully understand at the time the gravity of what this competition has done for women’s sport, so to get another go is pretty amazing. I feel far more prepared this time round and I think it’s such an exciting time to join this club.”

Head coach Lauren Arnell is thrilled to have De Melo on board.

“One thing we love about Jade is the growth she has shown over the last few years,” Arnell said.

“She has shown us that she now has a really clear understanding of AFLW and what’s required to be successful. She reads the game exceptionally well and that has really stood out for us.”

Tall forward Halfpenny shows maturity beyond her years and, along with new teammate De Melo, was in shock to receive an offer to join Port Adelaide.

The 20-year-old was the first father-daughter recruit for Norwood when she joined in 2020, with dad Warren having played 26 games for the Redlegs in the early 1990s.

Young tall forward Jade Halfpenny joins Port's inaugural side as Norwood's highest disposal getter and top 10 in the SANFLW for marks. Image: Matt Sampson.

Halfpenny tops her club leaderboard for most disposals in 2022 and sits inside the top 10 for most marks across the league.

Her approach to her meeting with Maidment was hopeful, but not expectant.

“I never really expected an offer because I didn’t want to get my hopes up and be disappointed,” she said.

“I went into the season knowing there would be opportunities and wanted to do the best I could to be considered.

“I’m pretty elated. This is something I've been working toward for a few years now and I’m just so excited to get the chance to prove myself at this level.”

Both Jade De Melo and Jade Halfpenny are coming off outstanding seasons in the SANFLW. Image: Matt Sampson.

Arnell has been impressed with Halfpenny’s maturity and the way she uses her height on-field.

“Jade is incredibly mature and resilient for her age, which is something we often find with players who have been overlooked in the draft before,” Arnell said.

“There’s that drive to work even harder to prove they deserve to be here and we have definitely seen that in Jade.

“She is strong overhead, uses her height well and has a nice kick. She’s definitely one of the better performers in SANFLW this year and we’re excited to have her.”