This year’s AFL Trade and Free Agency Period was, in some ways, like many others: most of it was spent talking at length about far-fetched and unlikely player movements. But in the final days of the period, things got interesting. Actually, things got a bit weird. Ultimately, it was a trade period like we’ve never had before – and one that has perhaps set a precedent for the future in terms of where the power now sits when it comes to the trading process.
Let’s take a look at some of the key moves.
All of a sudden, players seem to have more power than ever to influence whether their coach stays or goes. This year’s post-season coach sackings of Adelaide’s Brenton Sanderson, Gold Coast’s Guy McKenna and the Western Bulldogs’ Brendan McCartney were all seemingly due to player discontent.
Both Sanderson and McKenna could have a right to feel aggrieved at their mid-contract bonings, with their clubs not exactly tied to the foot of the ladder. But McCartney’s was especially bizarre, after captain Ryan Griffen walked out on the club to join the GWS Giants the day before the coach was forced to fall on his sword.
The inmates seem to have finally gained control of the asylum.
One minute the Giants were not trading last year’s No.1 draft pick, Tom Boyd, “under any circumstances”. The next day he was on his way to the Western Bulldogs, under a rumoured $7 million, seven-year deal. In a way, the Bulldogs had to regain some credibility after Griffen’s walkout, and land a big fish. But to pay $1 million a year to a 19-year-old who’s only played nine games is also a massive risk.
It could be a masterstroke. But Boyd could also end up being the most undeserving million-dollar player since Tom Scully.
Kangas’ old boys
The North Melbourne recruiters will tell you that their actions during the trade period were all part of a well thought out strategy. But it’s hard to see how losing one of their few classy midfielders in Levi Greenwood could be intentional. By failing to come to terms with Greenwood, but bringing in two injury-prone and inconsistent free agents in Jarred Waite and Shaun Higgins, it sure looks like North took their eyes of the ball.
Plus, they wanted another injury-prone, ageing star in Adam Cooney, who ended up at Essendon. Perhaps they think their premiership window is open in 2015, but after being wiped off the park in a prelim this year, it’s hard to see the addition of some high-risk free agents making the difference.
Lions to roar again?
As recently as two years ago, Brisbane was about as popular a destination as Baghdad for AFL players. Fast forward to 2014, and not only did the Lions not lose one player against their wishes, they gained a couple of really classy midfielders in Dayne Beams and Allen Christensen. Both singled out the Lions as their destination of choice.
The Lions showed some good signs in 2014, and now with one of the best midfield brigades in the league – add these two to Rockliff, Rich, Redden and Zorko – they will be expecting continued improvement next season.
Finally, a West Australian big man wants to leave his Melbourne-based club and go to…Port Adelaide. The Power was the only club in the running for Patrick Ryder’s services from pretty early on in the piece. Although Essendon talked tough, the threat of legal action if the deal wasn’t done was enough to get Ryder to the Power for their first two draft picks.
If there was a missing link to Port’s list, a top-class ruckman was it. The addition of Ryder will again see them challenging for a top-four spot next season.