Saturday 24 February 2018 / 04:51 PM


The AFL trade period has ended. As always, some blockbuster moves have taken place. Here are five of the best:

Gary Ablett to Geelong

The fairytale return of Ablett is complete, with the modern great returning on a two-year deal which will see him retire where it all began. Geelong is set to have the AFL’s strongest starting midfield trio next season, with Ablett joining Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood in the engine-room.

Coach Chris Scott feels Ablett is the key to take Geelong from two successive preliminary final defeats to grand final day. While Ablett isn’t expected to play full-time midfield for the Cats given the quality and depth they have, he can expect to spend time up forward in a roving medium/small forward role.

Ablett will need to be managed during his time at the Cats, as the little master has only played 49 of a possible 88 games since the start of the 2014 season.

Jake Stringer to Essendon

Stringer gets a fresh start at the Bombers, and Essendon fans can get excited at the prospect of ‘The Package’ joining Joe Daniher, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Orazio Fantasia in the forward line.

Stringer did have an indifferent 2017 by his standards – impacted by all sorts of problems on and off the field. If he can put this behind him and get back to his best form, the Bombers can feel confident about being able to return to the finals and potentially push for a top-four spot in 2018.

Since 2015, Stringer has kicked 122 goals and he also made the 2015 All-Australian side.

Bryce Gibbs to Adelaide

Gibbs finally gets his wish of returning home to live in his home state. The Crows receive an elite midfielder that has quality to burn when in space. Gibbs signed a four-year deal and will no doubt aid Adelaide’s quest being in the premiership window.

Gibbs will aid the Crows playing mostly as an outside-mid. He averaged a slightly higher kick-to-handball ratio in 2017 compared to last year, performing remarkably consistently in a Carlton side that had a difficult season.

If Gibbs can average 23 possessions per game at a side near the bottom of the ladder, Crows fans will be excited to see what he can produce when supported by of the most consistent midfields in the competition.

Jake Lever to Melbourne

Intercepting defenders don’t come cheap. And while Melbourne had to bring out its biggest chip in this year’s AFL draft with pick No.10 and next year’s first-round selection, they can feel satisfied in knowing they have signed a future star for the next 12 years.

Melbourne missed out on making the finals in 2017 by 0.5 percent, so grabbing Lever is a big step in the right direction. Lever will instantly become the Demons’ best defender ahead of Oscar Mcdonald and Sam Frost.

Lever averaged four intercept marks per game in 2017 – the most in the AFL.

Luke Hodge to Brisbane

Hawthorn champion Luke Hodge shocked the footy world by signing a two-year deal to play on at the Lions, turning his back on retirement.

The recruitment of Hodge comes as a massive coup for the wooden-spoon Lions, given they aren’t stacked in the leadership department. Hodge is the perfect player to help the young Lions develop over the next two years. Following on from coach Chris Fagan and his work in starting a long-term plan which featured some promising signs, despite finishing last this season.

Hodge will be playing at half-back, along with being an on-field coach in helping the Lions backline stay calm when under pressure.

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Brett Sinclair

Sport has always been a big passion in Brett's life and he aims to share his vision with Commentary Box Sports' readers. Based in Melbourne, Brett covers AFL, NRL, cricket and football for CBS.

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