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CHANGES 2020 by The Oracle



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Part One: A very strange year

Things might have been somewhat hairy when the 1919 football season opened up in the wake of the ending of a world war and in the middle of a pandemic that took millions of lives but it’s difficult to imagine a more unusual football season than the one that ended a week or so ago. For starters, the footy is supposed to finish on that one day in September on the MCG in mild spring weather; not deep into October at the Gabba amid warnings of tropical storms and heavy rain.

I suppose therefore, it’s only fitting that the Covid19 affected season which oddly enough, produced the same final result as last year will be followed by an even more wierd player exchange and recruiting period. 

There’s confusion aplenty because club recruiters haven’t been apprised about the size of their team lists going forward into 2021. How then are they supposed to manage such delicate issues as their club’s total player payments? Then there’s the issue of the uncertainty of the forthcoming national draft with a large number of projected academy and father/son selections pushing draft selections around and the question of how do you assess a crop of up and coming young talent of who more than half haven’t played a game for twelve months?

None of this prevented the immediate deluge of activity yesterday as the 2020 AFL trade period officially got underway with the opening of the free agency period. The first player to change places was Adelaide’s Rory Atkins who moved to the Gold Coast Suns. By the end of the day, the following key moves had been done:-

1. Rory Atkins accepts a four-year deal, with a trigger for a fifth from Gold Coast as an unrestricted free agent. The Crows received a second-round compensation pick, No.39 at time of deal.

2. Isaac Smith accepts a two-year deal from Geelong as a restricted free agent. Hawthorn doesn't match the offer and will receive a third-round compensation pick, No.45 at time of deal.

3. Zac Williams accepts a six-year deal from Carlton. GWS doesn't match the offer and will receive a first-round compensation pick, No.10 at time of deal.

4. Aidan Corr accepts a five-year deal from North Melbourne. GWS doesn't match and will receive a second-round compensation pick, No.30 at time of deal.

5. Joe Daniher accepts a three-year deal from Brisbane as a restricted free agent. Essendon doesn't match the offer and will receive a first-round compensation pick, No.7 at time of deal.

6. Geelong lodges paperwork for GWS restricted free agent Jeremy Cameron. Giants have three days to decide whether to match the offer.

In addition, the day produced plenty of scuttlebutt around possible player movement and there will no doubt be many more changing places over the coming fortnights, especially once the formal trade period begins on Wednesday.

From a Melbourne perspective, the club’s plans to recruit Isaac Smith on a three year deal were nipped in the bud when he accepted Geelong’s offer. Given the risk involved in taking a player of his age for a three year term, his decision to go elsewhere wasn’t a matter that raised great concern from the Demons’ supporter base. 

Looking forward to the coming week or so, the club’s main target seems to be tall forward Ben Brown from North Melbourne and then perhaps a skillful outside player as a bookend on the wing opposite Ed Langdon and/or a solid half back flanker would be a nice addition to the list. There are also players to be moved on to allow the freeing up of the salary cap to allow for incoming recruits.

In looking at these scenarios, let’s start with the state of the list when the final siren sounded at Metricon Stadium to end the club’s season a little over a month ago:-

PRIMARY LIST: —

Oskar Baker Toby Bedford Angus Brayshaw Bayley Fritsch Max Gawn Mitch Hannan James Harmes Michael Hibberd Marty Hore Jayden Hunt Luke Jackson Neville Jetta Nathan Jones James Jordan 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 Kysaiah Kropinyeri Pickett Braydon Preuss Trent Rivers Christian Salem Charlie Spargo Joel Smith Tom Sparrow Adam Tomlinson Aaron vandenBerg Jack Viney Josh Wagner Sam Weideman   

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A 

Harley Bennell Mitch Brown Kade Chandler Kyle Dunkley Jay Lockhart Corey Wagner  

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY B  

Austin Bradtke 

Without the advantage of knowing the ultimate make up of its 2021 list, the club acted conservatively in the week after Round 18 and delisted only one primary list player, Josh Wagner. He was followed by three rookies in Harley Bennell, Kyle Dunkley and Corey Wagner. Bennell’s departure after a Covid19 breach was well documented and unfortunate because a one year contact extension was on the cards. 

So we move forward with only slight modifications and a list that presently looks like this:- 

PRIMARY LIST: —

Oskar Baker Toby Bedford Angus Brayshaw Bayley Fritsch Max Gawn Mitch Hannan James Harmes Michael Hibberd Marty Hore Jayden Hunt Luke Jackson Neville Jetta Nathan Jones James Jordan 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 Kysaiah Kropinyeri Pickett Braydon Preuss Trent Rivers Christian Salem Charlie Spargo Joel Smith Tom Sparrow Adam Tomlinson Aaron vandenBerg Jack Viney Sam Weideman   

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A 

Mitch Brown Kade Chandler Jay Lockhart 

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY B  

Austin Bradtke 

Braydon Preuss has requested a trade to the GWS Giants, the McDonald brothers are being mentioned in dispatches as possible “outs” and others are possibly being shopped around. Nothing should surprise us at this time of year anyway but 2020 has been something else.

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