AFL trade and contract news: Free agent Kyle Langford signs on for another four years at Bomberland
Recovering Essendon midfielder Kyle Langford says time on the sidelines with the coaching group has convinced him the club is heading in the right direction and he wants to be part of it.
The Herald Sun can reveal Langford, 25, has inked a four-year agreement to keep him at Tullamarine until end end of 2026.
The new deal is a huge show of faith in Essendon from Langford who had attracted strong interest from rival clubs including Hawthorn.
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But the Northern Knights product refused to seriously entertain outside interest and made the early contract commitment despite the Bombers’ poor start to the season.
The 191cm Langford has become an important player for Ben Rutten with his versatility and goal scoring power helping make him a constant threat in the front half of the ground.
He finished seventh in the club’s best and fairest last season after a fourth-place in 2020 and has booted 67 goals across his 99-game career.
Langford hasn’t played since hurting his hamstring in Round 1 this season but is on track to return in the Round 13 clash against Carlton which will also help mark Essendon’s 150-year celebrations.
The game is scheduled to be played on Friday, June 10 under lights at the MCG as part of the club’s blockbuster celebrations.
Langford said he remained excited about the Bombers’ future.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with our coaching group this season while I’ve been on the sidelines and one thing that has been clear to me is the hunger across the board to take this group forward,” Langford said.
“Although the wins aren’t falling our way at the moment, I can see so much potential in our team — that includes the playing group, coaches and staff — and I really believe in the direction we’re heading.
“It’s exciting to be a part of that journey for at least the next four years.”
List boss Adrian Dodoro said Langford was a priority signing.
“Kyle’s versatility and work rate is a key strength of his, which is evident in the clear improvement in his game over the past two seasons,” Dodoro said.
“His leadership on and off the field is excellent and will be key to the club’s future success with our developing playing group in years to come.”
Is Roos dynamo gettable?
Exciting North Melbourne forward Cam Zurhaar has parked contract talks with the Roos amid the club’s torrid one-win start to the season.
Zurhaar is happy at North Melbourne and has hit form after a goalless first three weeks, kicking 14 goals in the last six weeks, including successive three-goal tallies in the last two games.
But talks have been put on hold until later in the season as the Roos go through the intense growing pains of a full-blown rebuild.
Zurhaar’s combination of frenzied attack on the opponent and goal power allowed him to kick 31 goals last year after another slow start that saw him goalless by round 6.
The Roos have vast cap space and few quality star forwards, with the Nick Larkey-Zurhaar combination a critical part of the club’s list build.
The 24-year-old’s manager Anthony McConville confirmed to the Herald Sun the talks had not progressed so far.
“At this stage both parties have put talks on hold. He is playing in that role where he does rely on ball movement and the timing isn’t right to have fruitful discussions. We will leave it for now and talk to them later in the year,” he said.
Star No.1 overall pick Jason Horne-Francis has also put talks on hold as he attempts to build a rich vein of form, but he is contracted to the end of 2023.
Zurhaar is still expected to re-sign with the Roos but the development underpins how challenging it can be to restock a list when the rebuild starts at ground zero.
The Roos are likely to put in a submission for a priority pick if they cannot scrounge many more victories this season.
The club’s single victory came over a West Coast team light on for talent and its percentage sits at 53.6 per cent.
The Roos were excellent against Melbourne in their application and fight after some listless performances this year despite eventually being blown out on the scoreboard.
They had dropped Jaidyn Stephenson and Callum Coleman-Jones, with the VFL bye denying them a chance to rediscover the form to win back their spots this week.
The Roos take on St Kilda on Sunday in the 1.10pm slot.
Ex-cult Bomber back on runway after beating cruel injury
— Matt Turner
Two years after his sparkling Dreamtime debut and eight months since his AFL exit, former Essendon fan favourite Irving Mosquito is back playing football in remote Western Australia.
Mosquito, 21, made his comeback last month with Port Wyndham Crocs in the East Kimberley competition, kicking two goals in a one-point, opening-round win.
Essendon delisted the small forward in September, saying he lacked the desire to play at AFL level after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament and wanted to return home to Halls Creek.
It was an abrupt end for Mosquito, who lit up Indigenous Round on debut in August 2020, booting two goals against Richmond in Darwin.
He played in the Bombers’ next three games then never again, cruelled by a knee injury versus Geelong at the Gabba in September two years ago.
Port Wyndham president Scott Timms told News Corp his team was excited to have Mosquito, who was lured to the Crocs by close friends.
“A few weeks before (round 1) he came out to a few trainings with us,” Timms said.
“He obviously loves his football.
“It’s been great, especially for the young fellas that ask questions to have a role model that’s pretty close to home that they can relate to.
“His skills are great and he’s working on his fitness, building that up.
“We’re grateful and happy to have someone with his experience around the club.”
Essendon granted Mosquito indefinite leave in May last year and he went home while he was recovering from his knee injury.
The Bombers’ small-forward stocks took a hit when the left-footer quit the club and a further one on Friday when Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti retired.
Although Mosquito originally headed back to Halls Creek, he later moved 350km away to Kununurra, near the Northern Territory border.
Kununurra Demons hoped he would play for them this year because his partner was in their women’s side and the club wore Essendon-like guernseys with a red-and-black sash.
Mosquito attended a Kununurra training — his first session since leaving the Bombers — but he had already committed to the Crocs.
His new side is based in Wyndham, an hour northwest of Kununurra with a population of about 800 people.
After departing the AFL in September, Mosquito said it had been a tough decision.
“In the end, I realised I didn’t have the passion that was required to get back (from the knee injury) so it’s the right time to consider life away from football,” said Mosquito, who was drafted to Essendon with pick 38 in 2018.
“I will miss my teammates and being at the club every day.”
Exiled Blue preparing for AFL return
Liam Jones is preparing to make a dramatic comeback to the AFL as a 32-year-old next year despite walking away from up to $500,000 because of his anti-vaccine stance.
The full back is playing football with the Palm Beach Currumbin Lions in the QAFL and believes he could play for another three seasons at AFL level.
He would require the AFL to drop their vaccine mandate and is not eligible for the June 1 mid-season draft because that rule remains in place.
But his manager Shane Casley told the Herald Sun on Friday he was fully intent on returning to football if the AFL dropped that mandate as expected when Covid wanes.
“I speak to him weekly. That was our plan on going to the QAFL, to play the highest level of footy we could this year and things might change next year. That is in our thinking,” Casley said.
“He is probably the best nick of his career and mentally probably in a pretty good state now so he’s probably at his peak.
“He is 31 this year, the Tassie boys are normally late maturers, he thought he had three years in him from this year so he’s probably got another two or three in him,” Casley said.
“I think if he got a chance to play AFL footy, you have got to look at any (club), so we will see what happens. I think if he gets through the year and things change I am sure there will be a few clubs that will at least look at him.”
Jones’ good mate Levi Casboult has already pushed Jones’ case to the Suns recruiting team but if Rory Thompson remains injury-free they are less likely to go for another key back.
Carlton has already moved on and is impressed with Lewis Young’s impact in defence alongside Jacob Weitering.
But a club in the premiership window looking for a full back would be a perfect fit, with his former side the Western Bulldogs one of those teams needing more defensive cover.
Casley said Jones’ age was no impediment given he was in elite shape and had been a late bloomer after only being shifted into defence in the last five seasons of his career.
Jones was an exceptional one-on-one defender playing in a Carlton team without much defensive system but would perfectly integrate into a more modern set-up.
GEELONG POISED TO RE-SIGN IRISHMAN
— Josh Barnes, Geelong Advertiser
Geelong is poised to lock away one of its key re-signings as Mark O’Connor closes in on a new contract.
Upon returning home to Ireland at the end of last season, O’Connor was unsure whether he would continue life in Australia at the end of his current contract, which expires following this season.
But once he resettled in Geelong, having spent Christmas in Australia for the first time, it became clear the defender wanted to continue.
Alongside the likes of Brandan Parfitt and Max Holmes, O’Connor, 25, looms as a priority re-signing this year for Geelong as it looks to lock away younger players who have earned a spot in the best-22.
O’Connor told the Geelong Addy he had spoken with the club and was down the path in locking away a new deal.
“I’m pretty settled here and I am happy at Geelong so I am keen to stay for a while longer,” he said.
“We have chatted to the club now and hopefully that is close to being done. We are just waiting for that to come together.”
Despite the ever-constant pull of home, O’Connor said he had no plans to ask for a short-term deal, having last signed for three years in mid-2019.
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Toggling between jobs in defence and the midfield, O’Connor is averaging a career-high 16 disposals per game and 2.8 tackles, which ranks elite among defenders.
His run off half-back will be crucial to Geelong working its way up the ladder, beginning with Saturday’s clash against Port Adelaide.