AFL trades: All the latest movement news and free agency rumbles

Dashing mid-forward Bobby Hill is set to request a trade out of GWS for the second year in succession — but, this time, it won’t be to the Bombers. TRADE LATEST

Collingwood has entered the race for GWS Giants’ playmaker Bobby Hill as Essendon looks elsewhere.

The Magpies are mulling a double play in this year’s trade period with moves for Brisbane mobile forward Daniel McStay and the dashing Hill.

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Collingwood controversially cleared money in its salary cap when it off-loaded Adam Treloar and Jaidyn Stephenson two years ago and the bold calls have helped put the Magpies in a position to target free agent McStay and the skilful Hill in October.

Hill is recovering from a procedure to remove some testicular cancer and is widely expected to request a trade for the second year in a row, after unsuccessfully trying to shift to Essendon last season.

Bobby Hill, for the second year in succession, is expected to request a trade out of GWS. Picture: Michael Klein
Bobby Hill, for the second year in succession, is expected to request a trade out of GWS. Picture: Michael Klein

The Bombers, who baulked at a request to part with two second-round picks for him last year, do not have strong interest in the Western Australian in this year’s exchange period.

Collingwood would be prepared to only part with a mid-to-late round pick for Hill, 22, after jagging former Western Bulldogs’ midfielder Patrick Lipinski for pick No. 43.

The Magpies expressed interest in Hill last year but the late move fell over as GWS was unable to prise Rory Lobb out of Fremantle.

Essendon’s lack of interest helps clear a path for Hill to land at Collingwood to help add a layer of polish to the club’s forward half with Jordan De Goey’s future up in the air.

Hill would form an exciting small partnership alongside cult figure Jack Ginnivan at Collingwood.

Hill, who has kicked 34 goals from 41 AFL games, is out of contract at the end of the year and is keen to be closer to some family members in Victoria including his cousin, St Kilda’s Brad Hill.

The Magpies remain open to re-signing De Goey on their terms pending more discussions at season’s end.

De Goey trained on Tuesday and is pushing to play Gold Coast on Saturday night at Metricon Stadium.

Ben Brown has struggled to make an impact for the Demons in his second year. Picture: Getty Images
Ben Brown has struggled to make an impact for the Demons in his second year. Picture: Getty Images

Horror stat has Dees forward on red alert

—Jay Clark

He is the premiership hero who made a fairytale move to Melbourne.

When Ben Brown was kicked to the curb by North Melbourne things could have hardly turned out better in 2021 as the spearhead helped guide the Demons to a drought-breaking flag.

But, in his second season in red and blue, Brown’s form has become a headache.

Admittedly, the 200cm goal kicker has been without his co-pilot Tom McDonald for the past month and Max Gawn’s injury has seen Luke Jackson shift into the lead ruck role, meaning the opposition have often collapsed back on the former Kangaroo.

But if there is one man coach Simon Goodwin would want to fill his boots against Adelaide on Saturday, it is his curly-haired full-forward.

It is one of the most remarkable statistics of the season so far that Brown has taken only one one-on-one mark from 37 one-on-one contests this season.

According to Champion Data, Brown has won just 14 per cent of his one-on-one contests (including ground balls) which is the third-lowest ranking of the top-50 players to be targeted in a one-on-one contest this year.

Contested marking is not Ben Brown’s strong suit. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Contested marking is not Ben Brown’s strong suit. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Brown’s contested marking stats are damning. Picture: Getty Images
Brown’s contested marking stats are damning. Picture: Getty Images

He has gone goalless in three of his last five matches and his score involvements (down from 5.5 to 3.6) and disposals (9.8 to 6.6) have all plummeted from Rounds 1 – 9 compared to 10-15.

While Brown, 29, has never been an excellent contacted grab, even Brown’s marks on the lead have halved over the past six games from 1.3 to 0.6 a match.

Simply, the full-forward has battled to get his hands on it at the tip of the Melbourne spear, even with two of the most brilliant midfielders in the competition, Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca, looking for him on the burst out of the engine room.

In his defence, Melbourne’s midfield delivery has been sub-par at times.

Melbourne great Garry Lyon labelled their offensive movement a “disaster” and former St Kilda star Leigh Montagna described their blast-away approach in the forward half “horrible” last month.

And Brown is not on his own as Melbourne has dropped three of its last four games after a red-hot start to the season saw the club rattle off 10-straight wins.

But Mitch Brown is pressing hard for a recall after booting six goals six behinds from 12 scoring shots in the VFL as Melbourne opt for a smaller forward mix at the top level.

Without Gawn and McDonald, the Demons went for a shorter and speedier forward mix in the win over Brisbane at the weekend.

Mitch Brown could soon return for the Demons. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Mitch Brown could soon return for the Demons. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

Goodwin said the club was keen to experiment with its setup over the next part of the home and away season with upcoming blockbusters against Geelong (GMHBA), Fremantle (OS) and Carlton (MCG) on the run home.

Goodwin said he was keeping an open mind on the setup in the front half as Brown attempts to return to form in the back half of the season and fend off challenges from Geelong, Carlton, Collingwood and Richmond.

“Clearly that mix on the weekend worked well for us,” Goodwin said.

“We went a little bit smaller and brought in a bit more speed into the team and it seemed to work well for us.

“There will be a bit of experimentation over the next four or five weeks to really finds what the best mix is.

“From a sample against the Lions, we thought that structure worked incredibly well.

Home fires difficult to resist for flag Tiger

—Jon Ralph

Heart-and-soul Tigers utility Liam Baker is genuinely torn between remaining a “Richmond man” and returning to WA to kickstart a long career as a West Coast Eagle.

Baker has a tough decision ahead of him after winning two premierships at Richmond, with the Tigers attempting to re-sign him for the past 18 months.

Instead, he had held off amid growing interest from the Eagles, who he barracked for as a kid growing up on a wheat and sheep farm in Pingaring, east of Perth.

The 24-year-old would likely secure a pay rise from the Eagles, who believe his energy and versatility would bring exactly the kind of freshness to their list they so badly need. But his decision will not be based on money, with Baker yet to make a decision about staying or returning to be around family and friends.

His Perth-based management is set to arrive in Melbourne this week, with Richmond still confident of retaining a player they secured at pick 18 in the 2018 rookie draft.

Coach Damien Hardwick believes he exemplifies the characteristics of a “Richmond man”, which sums up the manner in which he wants his players to act on and off the field.

Richmond gun Liam Baker. Picture: Michael Klein
Richmond gun Liam Baker. Picture: Michael Klein

While Baker has long been a Mr Fix It of Richmond’s side, his capacity to move into the midfield in recent weeks makes him a much more valuable proposition.

He changed the game after going into the centre square against Geelong when Dion Prestia was concussed, with 24 disposals, seven clearances and 14 contested possessions.

Baker played midfield in round 1, forward from rounds 2-6, back from rounds 7-11 and from rounds 13-15 has played in all areas of the ground.

St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt told Fox Footy’s On The Couch on Monday night he was coming of age as a player, after he nearly stole the game against Geelong.

“He changes the game with his effort. He would have dived on a grenade, he was going so hard,” Riewoldt said.

Richmond would drive a hard bargain with the Eagles if he decided to leave, but is hopeful he will want to chase more premiership success.

The club is yet to make decisions on senior players Jack Riewoldt, Trent Cotchin, Kane Lambert and Shane Edwards.

Daniel Rioli is also putting off contract talks as he changes his player agent.

Collingwood’s horror De Goey compo twist

Collingwood’s hard-line decision to postpone talks with Jordan De Goey could result in the club losing him without compensation, as rivals grow certain the Pies have secured Lions free agent Dan McStay.

De Goey returned to Collingwood training on Tuesday, after spending time away from the club in various states of confusion, anger and contrition in the past week.

Those close to him believed he was simply exhausted from the intense scrutiny after his Bali escapades, but he will now attempt to put together a barnstorming finish to the season.

Collingwood could pay the price over its hard line Jordan De Goey stance. Picture: Michael Klein
Collingwood could pay the price over its hard line Jordan De Goey stance. Picture: Michael Klein

Ideally, he will re-sign with the club, but if he took up a rival offer as a departing free agent, the Pies would normally accept a first-round compensation pick that would currently be pick 14, based on their ladder position.

Free agency compensation works on net gains and the Pies’ likely free agency acquisition of McStay would effectively cancel out De Goey’s compensation pick.

The Lions have grown pessimistic about their chances of keeping McStay, offered five seasons at $600,000 by the Pies as a second key forward, while Brisbane offered him four years at $500,000.

They have since offered a fifth season, but Melbourne rivals keen to pitch to McStay have been told not to bother, given his club has already been chosen. It is now accepted that it would take a change of mind for McStay to return to the Lions.

Brisbane Lions free agent Daniel McStay. Picture: Dylan Burns/AFL/Getty
Brisbane Lions free agent Daniel McStay. Picture: Dylan Burns/AFL/Getty

Like Port Adelaide’s Karl Amon, he will simply try his best for his existing club before making a move back to a Victorian rival as a free agent.

McStay is an unrestricted free agent, so the Lions cannot match a deal for a player whose greatest goal-haul in a season is 28.10 last year.

But as the Pies develop an exciting band of small forwards including Ollie Henry, Jack Ginnivan, Beau McCreery and Jamie Elliott, he and Brody Mihocek would provide a valuable role bringing the ball to ground.

Collingwood’s initial offer for De Goey of about $1.6m over two seasons has now been retracted.

Collingwood CEO Mark Anderson. Picture: David Caird
Collingwood CEO Mark Anderson. Picture: David Caird

Even as he awaited penalty for his Bali nightclub actions, clubs including Geelong and Port Adelaide did not rule out doing their due diligence on De Goey.

St Kilda has long had an interest in De Goey, but has angrily denied making a contract offer.

The perfect scenario for Collingwood would be re-signing De Goey and fellow free agent Jamie Elliott and then securing the services of 26-year-old McStay as a free agent.

McStay was part of a broadside from Lions great Jonathan Brown on Fox Footy on Monday night when he said McStay, Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood were not playing with the necessary key aggression of dominant key forwards.

Lion poised to shut door on trade talk

—Jay Clark

Brisbane Lions superstar ball winner Lachie Neale is poised to sign a contract extension, thwarting any chance of a trade back to Fremantle.

News Corp can reveal Neale is in the final stages of a deal to stay at the Lions beyond next season.

Neale has agreed to a three-year extension which ties him to the club until the end of 2026.

Lions officials, including senior coach Chris Fagan, have been thrilled with his leadership and commitment to the program on and off the field this year.

Neale was already locked in until the end of 2023, but has all but recommitted this week to ensure he plays out his career at Brisbane.

Lachie Neale is staying at Brisbane. Picture: Getty Images
Lachie Neale is staying at Brisbane. Picture: Getty Images

It is a major coup for Brisbane as Neale briefly considered whether to return to Fremantle last year on the back of the pandemic for family reasons.

List manager Dom Ambrogio has struck the agreement with TLA boss Tom Petroro, keeping one of the competition’s best players up north to lead the club’s premiership tilt.

Neale, 29, is currently the favourite to win his second Brownlow Medal after an excellent first half of the season, averaging 32 possessions a game.

He remains one of the league’s most consistent and damaging on-ballers but will need the strong support of his midfield teammates to steer the Lions all the way this year.

His signature is a significant boost for the Lions who have done extremely well to retain their top talent under Ambrogio while adding Joe Daniher to the forward stocks on top of Charlie Cameron and Lincoln McCarthy.

Brisbane never thought Neale was a genuine chance to leave last year after signing him on a blockbuster trade from the Dockers in 2018.

Lions forward Dan McStay is weighing up a move home to Melbourne to play for Collingwood next year.

Fremantle has instead gone all-in on a move for Melbourne gun ruckman Luke Jackson, offering the premiership tall a bumper contract to return home to Western Australia.

Jackson is genuinely weighing up a decision to return to the west to lead the Dockers to their first flag.

Originally published as AFL trades: All the latest movement news and free agency rumbles

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