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CHANGES 2019 by The Oracle

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PART 1 - IT’S A LITTLE MORE COMPLICATED THIS TIME

This year’s free agency, trade and draft period will see the usual drama and upheaval as the AFL’s 18 clubs seek to better their lists in order to challenge for finals and possibly premiership honours.

Long before the final siren sounded on the season just over a week ago, the maneuvering was under way with player agents and clubs discussing possible player movements and in some cases, deals had already been done. 

Yesterday, the restricted and unrestricted free agency window opened and today the first players in each category traded places. Restricted free agent Brandon Ellis (Richmond) is now a Gold Coast Sun after the Tigers declined to match the Suns' offer while  Adelaide's Cameron Ellis-Yolmen, an unrestricted free agent moved to Brisbane. There will no doubt be others to follow over the coming week.

The trade period will run partly in tandem with the free agency period, officially opening at 9am on Monday (it will run to Wednesday week).

The coming off season of change has assumed  added importance for the Melbourne Football Club after its dismal on field performance in 2019. Whilst it’s true that the club will be hoping for improvement on the understanding (or hope) that next year it won’t suffer similarly from the ravages of injury that it had to deal with this year, its year from hell exposed a number of weaknesses that cry out be covered with the right sort of recruitment via trades and the draft,  making life somewhat more complicated for its recruiters. 

The starting point is the club’s player list which underwent a couple of changes after the 2019 list was finalised with last year’s November drafts. At that time the lists stood as follows -

PRIMARY LIST:  

Oskar Baker Toby Bedford Angus Brayshaw Bayley Fritsch Sam Frost Jeff Garlett Max Gawn Mitch Hannan James Harmes Michael Hibberd Marty Hore Jayden Hunt Neville Jetta Nathan Jones James Jordan Jay Kennedy Harris Kade Kolodjiashnij Jake Lever Jordan Lewis Oscar McDonald Tom McDonald Steven May Corey Maynard Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Aaron Nietschke Clayton Oliver Christian Petracca Harrison Petty Braydon Preuss Christian Salem Charlie Spargo Joel Smith Tom Sparrow Billy Stretch Aaron vandenBerg Jack Viney Josh Wagner Sam Weideman   

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A 

Kade Chandler Declan Keilty Tim Smith Corey Wagner  

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY B  

Austin Bradtke Guy Walker    

For the first time, the AFL club’s were able to tinker with their lists in March with the introduction of a pre-season supplemental selection and in the case of the Demons, they used the opportunity to add Jay Lockhart to their rookie list (15 days later he was in the team to play the Cats). 

Another AFL innovation was the 2019 mid-season rookie draft in which Melbourne was able to participate because it placed first-year Aaron Nietschke on the inactive list due to his ACL injury. This set up the opportunity to select Kyle Dunkley on the club lists. 

Since the end of the season in late August, the lists have been reduced with the departures of Jeff Garlett, Declan Keilty, Jordan Lewis, Corey Maynard, Tim Smith and Guy Walker through delistings or retirement, leaving them presently looking like this:- 

PRIMARY LIST:  

Oskar Baker Toby Bedford Angus Brayshaw Bayley Fritsch Sam Frost Max Gawn Mitch Hannan James Harmes Michael Hibberd Marty Hore Jayden Hunt Neville Jetta Nathan Jones James Jordan Jay Kennedy Harris Kade Kolodjiashnij Jake Lever Oscar McDonald Tom McDonald Steven May Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Aaron Nietschke Clayton Oliver Christian Petracca Harrison Petty Braydon Preuss Christian Salem Charlie Spargo Joel Smith Tom Sparrow Billy Stretch Aaron vandenBerg Jack Viney Josh Wagner Sam Weideman   

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A 

Kade Chandler Kyle Dunkley Jay Lockhart Corey Wagner  

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY B  

Austin Bradtke 

Then are some players being mentioned in despatches as being on the table for trades. Sam Frost and Billy Stretch have been mentioned in connection with Hawthorn and Gold Coast respectively while Ed Langdon and Adam Tomlinson are expected to join the club in trades or in the case of the latter, as a free agent. The Demons are also in contention for Collingwood’s injury-prone Jamie Elliott who wants more than the two year deal offered by the Pies but he has yet to disclose his hand between staying put at the Holden Centre or joining Brisbane or Melbourne. So let the next period of upheaval and change begin ...

Changes2019Part01.png

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PART 2 - REBOUND

The Melbourne Football Club’s free agency and trade period was generally seen as favorable. The club gained the services of the two main players it targeted, traded out one of its key defenders and exchanged draft selections so that, at this point in time, it holds two picks in the top ten in next month’s national draft.

The players introduced into the club were selected specifically to fit some of weaknesses identified in its season from hell. 

Adam Tomlinson, taken as an unrestricted free agent from Greater Western Sydney, is a player who has shown great resilience in his career with the Giants and can play as an outside midfielder, a key position and a back up ruck. The club has designated him for a wing position.

Another good fit for the Demons is Fremantle’s Ed Langdon, who is also looked upon as a player who will go a long way to providing some outside run in rebalancing the club’s midfield. He is also expected to line up on a wing.

With the Demons currently holding national draft picks 3 and 8, they are primed to fill other needs identified during the year particularly a small crumbing forward and a tall marking key position player who can kick goals.

There is another aspect of change at the club and that is in the area of the key personnel off the field who will be tasked with assisting Simon Goodwin in restoring  the magic which took his team to a preliminary final in 2018. The way to achieving the rebound is to return the team to its confident mindset in the areas where it was so strong - pressure at the contest and ball use - and, in order to achieve that aim, the list needs to be brought back to full health and strength. In that respect, the club is seeing changes taking place in the coaching department and on the health and conditioning side with the appointments of former St Kilda coach Alan Richardson in a senior support role to  Simon Goodwin and Dean Burgess as the new performance manager. The pair spent time together at Port Adelaide and are expected to play a major role in the club’s 2020 resurgence.

So whilst all of the above are expected to go a fair way to providing the necessary springboard to see the club recover from last year’s disappointing fall from grace, there is still some work to be done to cover the weaknesses uncovered this season. 

Some of this will unfold over the next five to six weeks that could see further activity in the trading of draft picks, a consideration of delisted free agents and the national, pre season and rookie drafts.

There are currently three vacancies on the primary list while two players - Jay Kennedy Harris and Billy Stretch remain uncontracted.

PRIMARY LIST:  

Oskar Baker Toby Bedford Angus Brayshaw Bayley Fritsch Max Gawn Mitch Hannan James Harmes Michael Hibberd Marty Hore Jayden Hunt Neville Jetta Nathan Jones James Jordan Jay Kennedy Harris Kade Kolodjiashnij Ed Langdon Jake Lever Oscar McDonald Tom McDonald Steven May Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Aaron Nietschke Clayton Oliver Christian Petracca Harrison Petty Braydon Preuss Christian Salem Charlie Spargo Joel Smith Tom Sparrow Billy Stretch Adam Tomlinson Aaron vandenBerg Jack Viney Josh Wagner Sam Weideman   

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A 

Kade Chandler Kyle Dunkley Jay Lockhart Corey Wagner  

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY B  

Austin Bradtke 

6958A3E0-43FE-4B83-AE65-AC1B4181374A.jpeg

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