27/02/2024

The rivalry between the Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles is one of the AFL’s most fierce, and it’s set to extend off the field this trade period as both clubs contend for the signature of one of the AFL’s brightest young stars.

After winning a premiership with Melbourne in 2021, Luke Jackson has expressed his desire to return to his home state of Western Australia but hasn’t nominated a preferred club.

With the signature of the former pick three up for grabs, Jackson is one of the biggest names looking for a new home this off-season – but which club is the best fit?

Draft Capital

In terms of the logistics of a trade, the Eagles are certainly better placed than the Dockers to make an offer to Melbourne, holding picks two, 20, and 26 inside the first two rounds of the draft.

They’re also set to lose Junior Rioli to Port Adelaide, another source of draft picks which would only bolster their hand further.

The Dockers’ first selection currently sits at pick 13, but they don’t have another one until the end of the fourth round, holding Geelong’s selection (currently pick 72).

However, with the Dockers likely to lose Rory Lobb and Blake Acres, among others, they will almost certainly be receiving their fair share of picks in return for the talent that will be departing the club.

Melbourne is currently without a first-round pick for 2022, with Sydney currently holding its pick 14 (via Adelaide from the trade for Jordan Dawson).

With a player of Jackson’s value departing, it’s likely the Demons will be requesting two first-round picks, or at the very least, a first-round selection and an early second-round selection.

Both clubs will certainly be equipped and willing to offer these up for Jackson, though a big question is – will the Eagles be willing to part with pick two if it’s at the forefront of the Dees’ requests?

Role

Playing into Jackson’s favour in his trade request is both clubs’ need for a player of his ilk – his versatility, as displayed at Melbourne, saw him play second fiddle to Max Gawn at the Demons in a dual ruck-forward role.

Jackson would be a near like-for-like replacement for Lobb at the Dockers, with the capacity to form a ruck pairing with Sean Darcy, as he did with Gawn.

In Gawn’s absence this year, Jackson seamlessly slotted into the number one ruck role for Melbourne, and Darcy’s trouble with injury throughout his career means the Dee could do the same at Freo.

Similarly, with Nic Naitanui and Jack Darling coming towards the end of their careers, and Josh Kennedy having just retired, there’s ample space and versatility in the role Jackson could step into at the Eagles.

With no obvious successor to Naitanui as the club’s first-choice ruck and the likes of Callum Jamieson (nine games in 2022), Bailey Williams (17), and Jack Williams (one) all on the Eagles’ list, the lure of a first-choice ruck role could be too good for Jackson to pass up.

More Aussie Rules News

AFLW Team of the Week: Round 3

A trip down memory lane: The tough, hard SANFL football of the 1970s

Attacking consistency required for Saints midfield to take next step

Club

Having already won a Premiership with the Dees in his short 52-game career, Jackson could be tempted to go to a club building from the ground up in the Eagles or look to bring his talent to an already promising young outfit in the Dockers.

The Dockers have reportedly already tabled Jackson a lucrative offer, which sets a high bar for the Eagles in terms of what they could put forward to Jackson.

At just 20, both clubs could realistically afford to offer Jackson a long-term deal, with his career already established but also much more footy ahead of him. The question is how long each club is willing to offer, with security a potentially large factor in Jackson’s decision on his future.

The Dockers have reportedly tabled a seven-year deal, which the Eagles would need to at least match to compete with what Jackson has already been offered.

Perhaps the deal comes down to the distribution of how much money Jackson is offered – a front-ended contract, in particular, could be more lucrative given it guarantees more money earlier in the deal.

The Verdict – Dockers or Eagles?

The Dockers’ proactivity in offering Jackson a deal could play very well into their favour. With a contract offer already on the table, the Dockers appear a keen suitor for his services.

The state of their list is also an ideal prospect – young and skilled, having reached the semi-finals and with room for improvement, Jackson could be the player to propel them deeper into the finals in 2023.

The likely departure of Rory Lobb and the potential departure of Lloyd Meek is another big factor. Jackson would be able to slot straight into either – or even a mixture of both – of those roles with complete positional security.

After a dismal 2022 which was marred by injury, the only way is up for the Eagles. They weren’t expected to finish so low on the ladder, and with the addition of Jackson, as well as a hopefully healthy list, could rebound quickly.

The lure of becoming the Eagles’ number one ruck could also be a selling point, depending on where and how Jackson sees himself playing in the future.

With that said, Fremantle’s offer and the shape of their list in 2022 seems the most suitable fit for Jackson, but there’s plenty to play out as the already heated West Australian rivalry breaches the boundaries of Optus Stadium this off-season.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

About Author

Leave a Reply