Who’s out of contract? The players your club needs to re-sign

Darcy Parish, Patrick Cripps and Shai Bolton are key signatures for their respective clubs. Images: @essendonfc Twitter, carltonfc.com.au, @richmondfc Twitter

Who is out of contract? Who needs a contract ASAP?

As we approach the second half of the AFL season, list management decisions are being moved heavily into focus for plenty of clubs.

The Inner Sanctum has identified the three out of contract players that your club needs to secure before the end of the season and the Trade and Free Agency period.

ADELAIDE

Taylor Walker: The former captain has been in electric form in 2021 and is in Coleman Medal contention. Leadership and guidance should be enough to see ‘Tex’ renewed into 2022 and who knows what could happen beyond that.

Jake Kelly: The 26-year-old defender is very much holding down his spot while helping the young defenders around him. Has done nothing wrong and will be handy to have going into the future.

Daniel Talia: Talia has been out of action this year with injury but still remains a vital part of the Crows defence. The experience and guidance, similar to Walker and Kelly, will be handy as the Crows go through their rebuild.

Others: Matt Crouch, Ben Davis, Tom Lynch, Dave Mackay, Lachlan Gollant, Nick Murray, Ronin O’Connor, Paul Seedsman, Kieran Strachan.

Jack Hudson

BRISBANE

Mitch Robinson: The definition of a heart and soul player, Robinson is now well into his thirties but is starting to produce some of his best and consistent football, highlighted by his 4 goal, 30 disposal game in Round 11 against the Giants.

Lincoln McCarthy: The small forward who couldn’t get on the park during his time at Geelong has seemingly not missed a beat since heading to the Sunshine state and is a key cog in this potent Lions forward line.

McCarthy has had a down season on career averages in all key stats areas but has still scored 13 goals this season and looms as an important signature for the Lions to secure before the end of the season.

Marcus Adams: After an injury riddled 2020, the key defender has cemented his place in the Lions backline, working in tandem with Harris Andrews and are part of a strong back 6 unit at the Gabba.

Coming to the end of his initial three year contract he signed when he crossed over from the Bulldogs at the end of 2018, with Jack Payne still developing, Adams’ signature will be highly sought after in the back half of the season.

Others: Tom Fullarton, Keidean Coleman, Brock Smith, Grant Birchall, Connor Ballenden

Jono Baruch

CARLTON

Patrick Cripps: One of the biggest free agents left on the market. The Blues have already locked away Harry McKay, and While the reports of his new deal with the Blues being close to done and will be announced imminently, we are still waiting for it to be formally announced. As such, Carlton will still be chasing his signature until Cripps signs on the dotted line.

The Blues co-skipper has battled through injuries and form slumps this year but is starting to return to levels of consistent footy we’ve become accustomed to in the weeks before the bye.

Brodie Kemp: The talented utility is yet to make his debut for Carlton after being selected with pick 17 in the 2019 National draft due to a spate of injuries and setbacks. The highly-rated youngster has returned to the playing field at the lower levels and is building match fitness ahead of a much-anticipated debut hopefully later in the season.

Unsigned to this point, All signs point towards Kemp’s time at Ikon Park extending but the Blues would be waiting to see him play before locking him away.

Jack Silvagni: The son of a gun has had some rotten luck in recent years with multiple injuries and setbacks and going in and out of the team. What Silvagni has proven is that when he is playing, the structure of the Carlton side looks better with him in and his effort, endeavour, and footy smarts are second to none.

After murmurs of unrest last year, there was a question mark over whether or not Jack would be at the club long term. On current output this season, he has become a player that is an important signature for Carlton to secure in the second half of 2021.

Jack Silvagni. has played good footy amid a horror run with luck this year for Carlton Image: carltonfc.com.au

Others: Nic Newman, Lochie O’Brien, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Josh Honey, Marc Pittonet, Michael Gibbons, Sam Ramsay, Marc Murphy, Eddie Betts, Ed Curnow, Jack Newnes, Matthew Kennedy, Matthew Cottrell

Jono Baruch

COLLINGWOOD

Scott Pendlebury: It doesn’t get any more obvious as to why Collingwood needs to sign its skipper on, even if it is only for another year as he did last year, extending his contract to the end of 2021.

Pendlebury will be crucial for the Pies as they transition to interim coach Robert Harvey, then to whoever is the person who officially takes over the helm. While it’s in the air whether he’ll pass on captaincy, his leadership and passion for the club will remain, and the pressure off him as captain may be what he needs to focus on in the final years of quality football.

Although turning 34 in January, Pendlebury shows no signs of slowing down, averaging 24 disposals and just under four tackles per game.

John Noble: Noble has proved that his height has no limitation in the backline, and has become a pivotal member of the Pies defence.

Averaging 19 disposals, Noble has played in all of the Pies matches this year, backing up his performance last year where he only missed two matches.

It’s looking as though Noble is one of the out-of-contract Pies who shouldn’t worry about being offered a contract, with a multi-year extension looking more and more likely for the 23-year-old.

Trent Bianco: The pick 45 in 2019 impressed in his debut against Geelong in round 11, being named in the Pies best, picking up 19 disposals.

In just his three games, Bianco is averaging 14 disposals at an efficiency of 66.7 percent, proving his ability early on to find the ball and use it well.

Although Bianco is a small forward, and Collingwood should desperately be looking for a tall forward to sign, Bianco has proved already that his football smarts will be well needed for the Pies down forward, in what should be years to come.

Bianco has only contributed one major to the scoreboard for the Pies, confidence, and ability to snap goals like his small forward teammates Jamie Elliott and Josh Thomas will come with maturity and game time gained. He already shows signs of versatility like Elliott, being able to play both as a forward and midfielder when required.

Others: Jack Madgen, Mason Cox, Trey Ruscoe, Brayden Sier, and Josh Thomas.

Tricia Mifsud

ESSENDON

Darcy Parish: With Zach Merrett’s signature acquired, Essendon’s attention turns to the competition’s most improved player of 2021, Darcy Parish. The Winchelsea man has very quickly become one of the biggest names coming off the books at the end of the season.

Parish is averaging the third most disposals per game (31.4) behind ball magnets Jack Macrae and Tom Mitchell. Add to that he is first in the AFL for centre clearances, and is in the top ten for score involvements and top five for goal assists, it has been a staggeringly good year as a full-time midfielder that sees him in Brownlow medal contention after 13 rounds.

A restricted free agent, expect Parish to sign a two year deal to take him through to his free agency. He could command up to $750,000 per year.

Jake Stringer: ‘The Package’ knows his worth, and he’s holding the Bombers to it. The Stringer trade has been a success since he crossed over from the Dogs in 2018 for two second-rounders. He has led the Essendon goal-kicking in 2018 and 2019 and was on track to do so in 2020 before a syndesmosis injury derailed his season.

Stringer’s impact on the Dons is underrated; he averages two centre clearances a game as a midfield bull, has 5.5 score involvements a game, and kicks two goals a game. He’s a bonafide match-winner, as he proved against the Eagles this year, and adds a point of difference to an attack that has become potent in 2021.

Essendon has the cap to retain him, but it may be for more than it wanted. Nevertheless, expect him to be staying at the Hangar.

Nick Hind: A savvy piece of business is last year’s trade window, Hind came over from St Kilda for a fourth-round pick and has shone in the backline for Essendon, playing every game this year.

Hind’s signature has suddenly become important for the Bombers – he generates meaningful drive out of defence with his leg speed and long kicking, and is also a good shutdown defender on small, quick forwards.

Others: Matt Guelfi, Cale Hooker, David Zaharakis, Ned Cahill, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, Tom Cutler, Andrew Phillips

Jasper Chellappah

Darcy Parish is driving his worth up with his breakout season in 2021 Photo: @EssendonFC on Twitter

FREMANTLE

Adam Cerra: The most crucial and talked about signature for Fremantle to secure this season is that of its former top-five pick. Cerra is quickly becoming one of the most attractive players on the open market as more players from other clubs start to re-sign. He reportedly has a four-year contract in front of him from Fremantle but is still unsigned, with multiple clubs from his home state of Victoria interested.

The smooth-moving midfielder finished top five in Fremantle’s Best and Fairest in just his third year in the league and has made a noticeable difference to the team since returning from injury this season. Given the 21-year-old’s talent, the investment the Dockers have put into him and how perfectly he’s situated in the club’s list timeline, losing Cerra would be a brutal blow.

Josh Treacy: ‘The Big Cohuna’ is shaping as one of the biggest steals from last year’s draft, but the reason why he’s a steal is also why he needs a new contract. Treacy is only on a one-year deal because he was taken with pick 7 in the Rookie Draft, meaning that the Dockers need to lock up their developing key forward.

Treacy has stood up the last two weeks in the absence of Matthew Taberner, kicking score lines of 3.1 and 2.3. His most recent game against Gold Coast was his most impressive to date. He finished with career-highs in disposals (15) and marks (seven), and he would have had a haul of four or five goals if he’d kicked more accurately. He’s still only 18 years, meaning that he has plenty of room to grow and develop. If his current form continues, not only is a new contract in order, but arguably an upgrade to the Senior list as well.

David Mundy: Sentiment alone is enough reason for Mundy to go on. The former Fremantle captain is one of the most universally loved figures in the game and is closing in on Matthew Pavlich’s club record of 353 games (Mundy’s currently on 345). But the veteran is also holding back father time, putting together another year that is to the same standard he’s set over the last decade.

In his 17th season, Mundy is currently averaging 26 disposals, six clearances, and nearly a goal a game. He’d be up there in Fremantle’s Best and Fairest count and was in All Australian discussions earlier in the year. It’s unlikely that a decision will be made by the player or club until the end of the year, but on current form, Mundy simply must get a new contract.

Others: Darcy Tucker, Ethan Hughes, Lachlan Schultz, Mitchell Crowden, Nathan Wilson, Reece Conca, Sam Switkowski, Stephen Hill, Travis Colyer.

Hamish Spence

GEELONG

Cam Guthrie: A genuine superstar of the competition, Guthrie has backed up his All Australian 2020 with another spectacular season. Pigeon-holed as a back pocket type in his early years at the Cats, Guthrie has now put together 11 seasons of football with the one club, steadily improving into what he is now.

Guthrie is an unrestricted free agent so has his pick of clubs. At 28 years old, he has one big contract coming up before he hits his 30s and would earn more at another club with Geelong’s tight salary cap. Having said that, his loyalty has never been questioned.

Joel Selwood: Will captain courageous go around again? It may all depend on their premiership run and if they’re successful, but he’s certainly earned another contract. Selwood is leading the Cats for clearances, contested possessions, and ground ball gets and hasn’t missed a game this year which is a great tick for his health.

 Quinton Narkle: Out of contract, and in form. Narkle will have a lot of suitors on the market and he may have to look elsewhere for opportunity. With the influx of experienced heads into the Cattery, his opportunity has been limited. Narkle is coming off 34 and 25 disposal games, but was dropped after their bye and earnt a late reprive by a late change on Friday night.

His days of wearing the medical vest are numbered, because he’s too good to be playing VFL.

Others: Shaun Higgins, Charlie Constable, Gryan Miers, Esava Ratugolea, Rhys Stanley, Brad Close, Zach Guthrie

Jasper Chellappah

Geelong will be looking to re-sign Guthrie come the end of the season Photo: @GeelongCats on twitter

GOLD COAST

Lachlan Weller: Out of all the out-of-contract names for the suns, Weller would be up there as a priority for Gold Coast to retain beyond 2021. Since joining the Suns during the 2017 trade period, he’s been a lock in the sun’s midfield.

With the likes of Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson still emerging, having Weller in that mix adds that level of experience in the middle. Weller is a proven avenue to goal for the suns but of late has spent most of his time in the defensive end of the ground.

Sean Lemmens: After struggling to cement his spot in the Gold Coast best 22 in recent years, 2021 is shaping up to be one of Lemmens most consistent seasons at the top level, having played every game since round six.  Finding his place in the back pocket for the Suns, when in form has been a good addition to the Suns back six.

Nick Holman: Nick Holman has made quite the fist of his second chance at AFL level, adding forward pressure to the Suns attacking fifty. The 26-year-old is very versatile in where he can play, Being able to play the defensive forward role, midfielder, or even a tagging role, Holman is a reliable player Stuart Dew can rely on to do a job.

Others: Sam Flanders, Jordan Murdoch, Jarrod Harbrow, Alex Davies, Sam Day.

Elly McNerney

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

Josh Kelly: The 26-year-old has a big decision to make heading into this offseason. Kelly, a restricted free agent, can trigger an eight-year deal worth a reported $1million a year or opt-out and test free agency.

With multiple Victorian clubs rumoured to be monitoring Kelly’s situation in the hope of luring him back home, securing his signature is the Giants’ top priority.

Kelly has been in impressive form of late averaging 25.7 disposals, 4.7 tackles, 4.1 inside ’50s, and a goal a game. Kelly has been in the type of form which earned him an All Australian jacket and the Giants B&F, the Kevin Sheedy Medal in 2017. Given the number of top players who have left the Giants over the years, the club cannot afford to lose a player of Kelly’s quality.

The Giants will be hoping Josh Kelly will trigger his contract to stay a Giant for life @GWSGIANTS on twitter

Jacob Hopper: The hard ball-winning midfielder has been one of the most consistent players so far this season going under the radar. Having only dropped below 20 touches once this season, Hopper has been one of the Giants’ most reliable players.

Over the past three seasons, he has only missed three games and is clearly well respected by the playing group being voted into the leadership group for this season at just 24 years of age. With two top-five B&F finishes over the past two seasons and having come through the GWS academy, Hopper should be awarded with a new contract and continue to be an important part of the Giant’s midfield for years to come.

Jake Riccardi: After an impressive rookie season in 2020 where the high marking forward burst onto the scene scoring 9 goals from 5 games, Riccardi has fallen out of favour at selection this season, struggling to cement his spot in the side being dropped twice.

He has managed 6 games but only a return of 2 goals. The 21-year-old still has time to develop and has had monster performances in the VFL, where he has shown the ability to play at both ends. Riccardi had 41 disposals and 19 marks against Southport in round 3 and most recently kicked 8 goals to go along with 24 touches and 14 marks. It is only a matter of time until Riccardi returns to his 2020 form and with interest from multiple clubs, the Giants will need to lock up the young forward to avoid seeing him potentially blossom at another team.

Others: Tom Green, Matthew Flynn, Sam Reid, Daniel Lloyd Kieren Briggs, Lachlan Keeffe, Matt Buntine, Zachary Sproule.

Ben Filosi

HAWTHORN

Changkuoth Jiath: Reportedly has a contract trigger for 2022 that he will likely hit, but given Jiath’s form this year, it could be in Hawthorn’s best interests to secure him long-term.

Jiath has been a revelation off half-back this season, averaging 21 disposals, six marks, and 320 meters gained per game. He would be up there in the Hawks’ Best and Fairest and has been a consistent highlight in what has otherwise been a mixed year for the club. The 22-year-old perfectly fits into Hawthorn’s timeline as it continues to rebuild and he should be an exciting player to watch in the coming years.

Jacob Koschitzke: Has emerged as a potential key forward of the future for Hawthorn with a couple of breakout performances this year. Koschitzke caught everyone’s attention during the pre-season with his six-goal haul against North Melbourne in the AAMI Community Series, which saw him make his senior debut in Round One.

But he has proved that he could do it at the level against Adelaide in Round 5, when he booted five goals from eight scoring shots and earned the NAB Rising Star Nomination for that week. At just 20-years-old in only his third season, Koschitzke is a long-term prospect who the Hawks will undoubtedly want to lock down.

Dylan Moore: The small forward has quietly been putting together a solid season in his fourth year in the league. Moore has played in every game and kicked 15 goals this season, after only managing three games late last year.

He faced uncertainty over his future and was only re-signed as a Rookie late in the off-season, but he has quickly repaid the Hawks’ faith. He starred for Hawthorn in Round 1, when he kicked three third-quarter goals as part of his team’s miraculous comeback against Essendon and has also kicked two goals in each of his last two games. Moore is only in his first season on the Rookie list, meaning that the Hawks can re-sign as a Rookie for another two years.

Others: James Cousins, Oliver Hanrahan, Michael Hartley, Daniel Howe, Emerson Jeka, Harry Morrison, Finn Maginness, Tim O’Brien, Shaun Burgoyne

Hamish Spence

MELBOURNE

Sam Weideman: Flag-contenders Melbourne is one of the least worried about its current contracts, having already locked away several stars.

Since enjoying a breakout game in the 2018 elimination final win over Geelong, Weideman’s form has been spotty, and there are question marks over whether he has a spot in the forward line in the future.

On return from injury this year he’s kicked just three goals in five games, playing second (and third) fiddle to Tom McDonald and Bayley Fritsch. However, he showed what he could be in 2020 as a dangerous and consistent marking threat, averaging nearly a goal and a half a game.

Tom McDonald: McDonald’s contract doesn’t expire until the end of the 2022 season, but he’s possibly the biggest name to do so on the Demons list.

McDonald, 28, is getting close to his career-best form, having kicked 23 goals so far and averaging 15 disposals, five and a half marks, and three inside 50s. He’s once again the main offensive weapon of the forward line, and Simon Goodwin would likely be keen to keep him as that.

Marty Hore: Ruled out of the 2021 season with an ACL injury after also missing all of 2020, it’s easy to forget just how much Hore added to the Demons backline.

With Steven May and Jake Lever back at full fitness, Hore still has the potential to be an excellent intercepting defender, playing loose to complement his key defenders.

He averaged 15 disposals, five marks, and four rebound 50s in 2019. If he can recover completely, Hore still has a spot in the Dees’ backline.

Others: Aaron vandenBerg, Jay Lockhart, Kade Chandler, Majak Daw, Michael Hibberd, Mitch Brown, Nathan Jones, Neville Jetta

Alex Catalano

Melbourne will be looking to re-sign forward Tom McDonald at the end of the season. Photo: @MelbourneFC on Twitter

NORTH MELBOURNE

Trent Dumont: With back-to-back top 5 finishes in North’s B&F over the past two seasons, Dumont has proven himself to be one of North’s more reliable players. For a wingman, Dumont offers strong tackling pressure where he ranked 18th for tackles in the AFL last season.

As North enters into a rebuild, keeping talent such as Dumont is important to ensure the club still has support around their young developing players. At just 25 years of age Dumont fits into North’s current timeline alongside guys such as Jy Simpkin and Luke Davies-Uniacke as the future midfield group of the Kangaroos for years to come.

Jack Ziebell: A one-club man, Ziebell has been a loyal servant to North Melbourne over his career and should be rewarded with another contract. This season Ziebell has reinvented himself as a defender, playing off the halfback line where he is currently averaging career highs in disposals and marks.

His teammates clearly trust him with the ball in his hands and his smart decision-making and foot skills have been an asset to North this season. Ziebell appears to be the right man to lead the club through their rebuild and help mentor their younger players and future leaders.

Aaron Hall: Since joining North from the Suns in 2019, Hall has shown flashes of brilliance but has struggled with injuries. He now appears to have put the setbacks behind him and transformed himself into a damaging runner off halfback.

Hall offers X-factor with his speed and slick ball use. He is currently ranked third in average meters gained this season, with a staggering 629 meters a game. With the damaging ability, Hall has North will want to lock him away before another club tries to poach him this offseason.

Others: Robbie Tarrant, Shaun Atley, Connor Menadue, Josh Walker, Aiden Bonar, Taylor Garner, Tom Campbell

Ben Filosi

PORT ADELAIDE

Kane Farrell: One that has shown glimpses of what he can do, both up forward and on a wing. Is regarded by many as the best kick in the Port Adelaide side. His long-range makes him a valuable distributor for Ken Hinkley and is as classy as they come with ball in hand.

Jarrod Lienert: The tall defender has had a stellar year for the Magpies in the SANFL. He can consider himself extremely unlucky not to have been given a shot in the AFL side. With age still on his side, Lienert could still be in line to cement his place in Ken Hinley’s side in the years to come. His signature is one many Port fans will want to be done asap.

Steven Motlop: The livewire forward is in the last year of his deal after switching from Geelong. Averaging 15 touches a game, that ranks as elite by AFL standards, Motlop has booted nine goals in his 12 games in what has been one of his best years at Alberton.

Others: Tom Rockliff, Hamish Hartlett, Joel Garner, Sam Mayes, Martin Frederick, Jackson Mead.

Adam Schultz

RICHMOND

David Astbury: Such a commanding presence down back is Astbury, who’s been with the club since 2010, the ever-reliable defender has been missing from the senior side since Round 11 with an Achilles injury and Richmond is feeling it.

When fit, Astbury brings a sense of calm to the back six, often taking the leading forward, and additionally, he has a way of impacting any contests he can get to. He is a key pillar in Damien Harwick’s plans in this season and beyond.

Shai Bolton: The livewire Bolton would be comfortably leading Richmond’s best and fairest at the halfway point of the season as he ascends to superstardom in the competition with sparkling performances this season.

Bolton is a man in demand and one that the Tigers will have a battle on their hands to retain as his performances continue to impress and more interested parties join the queue.

Callum Coleman-Jones: The emergence of Coleman-Jones as a proper forward threat should make the Tigers see his potential for future seasons. With Tom Lynch, Jack Riewoldt still playing good football, and Mabior Chol to contend with, and with Ivan Soldo returning next year, spots and game time appear to be limited.

In 2021, Coleman-Jones has shown his talent and wears, kicked eight goals in three games that included a four-goal haul in Round 11 with more than half of his total marks a mixture of contested and inside 50. Making his signature a priority for Blair Hartley and his team to secure him for the long-term future at Tigerland.

Others: Shane Edwards, Mabior Chol, Ryan Garthwaite, Kamdyn McInosh, Sydney Stack, Patrick Naish

Jason Irvine

Shai Bolton is the is one of the hottest unsigned players on the market in 2021 Photo @RichmondFC on twitter

ST KILDA

Jack Billings: Billings is 26 years old, out of contract and hitting the sweet spot of his career. A classy and skilful ball user who has seldom reached the lofty heights of a top 3 pick, having only placed in the top 5 of their best and fairest once in seven seasons.

Though, Billings does posses the skill and capability to win games off his own boot with performances and the longer he goes unsigned, the more rival clubs will increase their interest. An interesting one to watch.

Jack Sinclair: Out of the team and named as an emergency for the first seven games in 2020, Sinclair played a part in St Kilda’s push towards finals last year. This year though, he’s played every game where in six of those he collected upwards of 20 disposals.

A player who can utilise his skills anywhere on the ground, Sinclair has been one of the Saints’ most consistent performers this year and will have suitors come season’s end if he isn’t secured at Linton St by the end of the season.

Paddy Ryder: With the Saints limited ruck stocks at the moment and lack of second-level football in the past 18 months, they’ll want to hold onto Ryder for at least another season. It’s only Ryder’s second season at Moorabbin, but already he has become a real barometer and difference-maker in this St. Kilda side, averaging 33.57 hitouts a game with a real ability to create chances for the midfield group.

Ryder’s defensive efforts are to be commended too, his tackles and one-percenters and should be rewarded with a new contract.

Others: Paul Hunter, Mason Wood, Seb Ross, Jack Higgins, Zak Jones

Jason Irvine

SYDNEY

Luke Parker: Sydney Swans co-captain Luke Parker is having another strong season for the Sydney Swans.

Averaging 27 touches a game (12 contested), five clearances, and a personal best four inside ’50s, Parker is just as important as ever.

Parker is out of contract at the end of the year, and talks have begun with management. As co-captain, he will be the most important signing for the Swans this season.

Jordan Dawson: One of the most improved players in the AFL, Dawson’s rise has seen him become one of the most crucial members of the Swans back 6, and his importance will be highlighted in a new deal.

Dawson is averaging personal bests for disposals, rebound 50’s, and one percenters in his best season to date.

With South Australian clubs, namely Adelaide, circling, the Swans will want to sign him soon, as his dash off half-back, and his kick from defence are both crucial weapons the Swans can ill-afford to lose.

George Hewett: After missing most of 2020 with a back injury, Hewett has resumed his position in the Swans’ best 22, a timely position to be in with his contract up.

Interestingly, Hewett is a restricted free agent, and his name coming up in trade talks in 2020 leaves questions about whether he will be re-signed.

His experience holds him in good stead at Sydney, and his best 22 position, now in a lockdown defender role, suggests there remains a spot for him going forward, so expect him to be resigned at this stage.

Others: Dylan Stephens, Sam Reid, Sam Wicks, Barry O’Connor, Ben Ronke, Callum Sinclair, Colin O’Riordan, Hayden McLean, James Bell, Joel Amartey, Kaiden Brand, Malachy Carruthers, Matthew Ling, Robbie Fox, Ryan Clarke, Sam Gray, Will Gould. 

Thomas Grattan


WEST COAST

Liam Duggan: Possibly the most important signing remaining on West Coast’s list, Liam Duggan’s form over the past three years has proven that his contract is worthy of the intrigue that was surrounding Oscar Allen’s earlier this year.

Duggan started the 2021 season playing part-time in the midfield, adapting to whatever role he was thrown into with ease but much like Collingwood’s experiment with Darcy Moore, when he returned to the backline he dominated. Unfortunately the 24-year-old was another victim of the injury carnage that has rocked the Eagles backline this year.

Duggan and the club have confirmed that contract negotiations are underway and he will re-sign by the end of the season, but as a future leader of the club, fans will want to see a lengthy contract extended to Duggan.

Jarrod Brander: Brander has been touted as a successor alongside Oscar Allen to the Darling-Kennedy combo since he was drafted to the club, Jarrod Brander has come into his own in 2021. Struggling to put together several consistent games in a row in his first three years at the club, he at long last looks comfortable with his role at the club.

Averaging four intercepts a game Brander has created crucial turnovers on the wing, a position he’s started to settle into, spending 81 percent of his time on ground on the wing this year. There’s no sign of a ceiling on Brander at present and should he need to return to the forward line and take on a key role once more he’s more than equipped to take on any job West Coast asks of him now.

Josh Rotham: With the West Coast backline missing key players this year, Josh Rothan has been forced to play a key role in his fifth year at the club. In weeks that West Coast was missing experienced defenders Barrass, McGovern, and Hurn, Rotham morphed into a leader taking charge of a backline that had members of the forward line stuck playing key roles for extended periods.

Heading into the bye Rotham leads the competition in marks and has some of the best kicking efficiency amongst his fellow Eagles. The 23-year-old adds much-needed depth into the West Coast backline, honing his craft alongside McGovern.

Others: Ben Johnson, Brayden Ainsworth, Brendon Ah Chee, Daniel Venables, Jack Redden, Jermaine Jones, Joshua Kennedy, Luke Foley, Mark Hutchings, Nathan Vardy, Shannon Hurn, Xavier O’Neill

Jacqui Dodd

WESTERN BULLDOGS

Tom Liberatore: Liberatore has played an important role in the Bulldogs midfield this season, currently leading clearances and tackles at the Bulldogs, although stats aren’t everything it just proves the pressure he’s able to put on the ball carrier to create that turnover.

The depth the Bulldogs have at the moment is a whole other level but losing Liberatore would be a huge loss to the Bulldogs. Proven in the game against Fremantle he’ll stand up for the Bulldogs in pressure moments.

Stefan Martin: After joining the dogs in the 2020 trade period he’s proved as a handy addition to the kennel in 2021.

The addition of Martin takes the heat of developing ruckman Tim English and allows for English to spend some time up forward, which has been a good formula for the dogs. With English having kicked 12 goals so far in 2021.

Although having spent some time out with injury in 2021, having an experienced head in the ruck has worked wonders for the dogs.

Cody Weightman: From what Bulldogs fans have seen from Weightman in 2021, he’s going to be a star for the dogs going forward. After having a breakout game against Port Adelaide in round nine finishing with 2 goals. Also gaining the rising star nominee in round 10 after a promising performance against the Saints.

Dogs fans have seen what Weightman can do against one of the top teams and the bulldogs wouldn’t want to let an up-and-coming player like Weightman go to another club.

Others: Taylor Duryea, Ryan Gardner, Zaine Cordy. Patrick Lipinski, Lin Jong, Mitch Wallis

Elly McNerney

1 Comment

  1. This is a great analysis! Very interesting and detailed coverage. For my money the top two priorities are Bolton for the Tiges and Liberatore for the Doggies. And for the Cats its Guthrie and then Close – who does everything well and is an underrated younger player

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