Melbourne AFL premiership forward Kysaiah Pickett and his partner Ardu Cubillo have announced they are expecting their first child.
The couple shared the news on Instagram over the weekend.
In a joint post, they simply wrote: “Our next chapter”.
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Dees skipper Max Gawn and his wife Jess both left messages of congratulations.
Fellow Melbourne teammate Steven May also commented, as did former Dees players Toby Bedford, Brodie Grundy and Luke Jackson.
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Kysaiah Pickett and Ardu Cubillo are expecting their first child. Credit: Instagram
With interest from a number of rival clubs, West Australian-born Pickett was set to become one of the game’s biggest names on the market at the end of last season until he re-signed with the Demons for four more years, locking him in until at least the end of 2027.
The former No.12 draft pick has been a revelation since arriving at the club at the end of 2019, finding his way straight into the side and playing a key role in their 2021 premiership.
Despite two top four finishes since then though, the Demons have bombed out of two consecutive finals series in straight sets and have battled an array of off-field issues.
But Melbourne fans have been promised their team is not “living under a rock” as the Demons reel from a second successive failed September.
As coach Simon Goodwin detailed how the coaches and players plan to improve on another straight-sets finals exit, club chief executive Gary Pert again strongly defended Melbourne’s culture.
Pert said the club was supporting star onballer Clayton Oliver, whose off-field behaviour caused growing concerns over the last few months, and defender Joel Smith, who remains under investigation after testing positive for cocaine.
Melbourne superstar Clayton Oliver has been charged with driving with a suspended licence. Credit: AAP
Goodwin and Pert spoke at last week’s forum for Demons members, an annual briefing that has taken on added meaning given their on and off-field issues.
AFLW coach Mick Stinear was another speaker after the Demons also dropped out of the women’s finals in straight sets, having won the premiership last year.
There was some good news with Melbourne announcing a feasibility study to build a training and administrative base at Caulfield Racecourse by as early as 2028.
The Demons have lacked a proper home base for about three decades.
After winning the 2021 AFL premiership, Melbourne have lost four successive finals.
This year, they bowed out after going down to eventual premiers Collingwood and Carlton by a combined total of nine points, despite having more scoring shots in the two finals.
Goodwin said his team continues to do a lot right, but must do better when it counts.
“We just didn’t win the moments that mattered in the finals — they are the facts,” he said.
“We weren’t able to execute in front of goal, we didn’t maximise our entry and that’s the first thing we looked at when we came back in (for pre-season).
“One goal a game takes us from sixth to first (among) the best offensive teams.”
Simon Goodwin (C) and his players leave the MCG after their season ended with another finals loss. Credit: AAP
He added their finals failure left them clues for future success.
“We’re not going to live under a rock. We’re going to look for the opportunities, we’re going to look for the growth,” Goodwin said.
“We’re going to drive winning behaviours and ultimately, hopefully, by the end of (next season) … you’ll be pretty happy.”
Pert said Oliver was committed to the club after speculation in the trade period about his future, but did not go into details about Smith.
“Clayton’s doing really well, he’s in a great head (space),” he said.
“He’s made a real commitment … he’s 100 per cent in, he wants to be part of something really special.
“We understand that Joel Smith is still part of an active investigation.”
Pert repeated his strong defence from a few weeks ago about Melbourne’s culture.
“When I get asked do we have cultural problems, I think quite the opposite — I think it is a competitive edge and it’s been driven by the best group of leaders that I’ve seen within a football organisation,” he said.
“I can’t promise … that we won’t have issues around behaviour or people not being aligned with the culture. That’s not what a strong culture is about … that is about calling out when individuals aren’t in alignment with the culture, with our values.”
Media tuned into the forum via online video, which ended as questions were being taken from members.
Meanwhile, club president Kate Roffey has hailed the potential Caulfield move as a “huge step forward” that could set up the Demons for the next 50 years.
As part of the proposed move Melbourne will have two training ovals at Caulfield.
– With AAP
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