The ongoing battle between GWS list boss Jason McCartney and Essendon counterpart Adrian Dodoro has produced its biggest casualty yet, with 21-year-old Bobby Hill denied his wish of being closer to relatives in Victoria as his young family grows.
The small forward nominated Essendon as his club of choice, but GWS has held firm on the contracted youngster despite a future second-round pick being put on the table. It adds another chapter to a rivalry that rears its head around this time every year.
At the death of 2020’s trade period, Jye Caldwell was granted his wish of becoming an Essendon player after prolonged negotiations. Taken with Pick 11 despite being restricted to just three TAC Cup games in 2018, he was traded back to Victoria along with later selections for two second-round picks (Pick 29 in 2020 and Pick 30 in 2021).
Dodoro was steadfast in his offer for the hard-nut midfielder, with the threat of the Pre-Season Draft hanging over proceedings. McCartney was determined to gain a first-round selection for him, but caved in the final minutes as the Pre-Season Draft became a genuine possibility.
The deal was a huge coup for the Bombers at a great price. Caldwell drew comparisons to Geelong skipper Joel Selwood in his draft and possesses elite tenacity in the clinches.
McCartney let it be known after the deal was completed that he wasn’t a fan of Dodoro’s conduct.
“The Caldwell one was a millimetre away from not getting done either. That’s Essendon: target a player, high quality, get him in the door, and then not (be) prepared to stump up the price to actually facilitate the deal,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.
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These two have a long history of deals. When McCartney was with the Western Bulldogs, he traded Pick 26 (Zach Merrett) for Stewart Crameri, and in 2017 dealt a 23-year-old Jake Stringer for selections 25 and 30. At GWS, he dealt Dylan Shiel for two first-rounders, with one of those picks used to draft Caldwell who was has found himself at the Bombers.
Barring the Crameri deal, these trades were completed after extended negotiations that dragged through days and weeks. It’s a long period of time for players to be stuck in limbo.
List managers know their relationships are vital. Fleecing another team in a trade isn’t a positive long-term play for your club anymore.
It’s why Adelaide wasn’t intent on marching Jordan Dawson through the Pre-Season Draft process. Everything was in place for the Crows to do so, but on the off-chance a South Australian at the Swans (for example Will Hayward) was looking to get home, it makes deals more difficult to get done.
Every trade and situation is different for list managers, and the fact remains Hill is contracted for another season and small forwards are an area of shallow depth for the Giants.
The wait and see is now on GWS building a support network around Hill and his partner as they welcome their first-born into the world.
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