One free agent your club would love to have
Ben Stratton of the Hawks and Travis Cloke of the Magpies in action during the AFL Round 17 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Hawthorn Hawks at the MCG, Melbourne. (Slattery Images)
With the season already over for 10 or so clubs, and another bunch not a realistic chance of winning it all, many clubs will be looking to the off-season to identify who they can try and bring over.
There are plenty of big stars such as Travis Cloke and Brendan Goddard that only a few teams are in the running for, but there are many diamonds in the rough to be found.
Here is one free agent for each club that would happily be inked in.
ADELAIDE CROWS: Angus Monfries (restricted)
With Kurt Tippett already halfway out the door, Adelaide would love to sign this young forward, who can also wreak some havoc in the midfield. It’s a bit far-fetched to assume the Crows are still in the running for Travis Cloke, and it’d be just as blasphemous to suggest they could pry someone like Jonathan Brown or Stevie J away from their respective clubs. With age on his side, Monfries looks to be one the Crows should chase come October.
BRISBANE LIONS: Kurt Tippett
Thirty-year-old Jonathan Brown, while still a great forward, is nearing his used-by date and is very injury prone. Kurt Tippett, on the other hand, is a young 25-year old who is itching for a return to Queensland. While also injury-prone, Tippett would add another option up forward and add a lot more height to the Lions’ forward line. If the Lions were to secure Tippett’s signature, it would make them a much more formidable force going forward (pun intended).
CARLTON BLUES: Brendon Goddard (unrestricted)
It’d be hard to see Brendon Goddard running around in a different jersey, but at the right price, anything’s possible. After a dismal season, considering the promise laid on them before a ball was bounced, Carlton would love to have a Mr. Fix It like Goddard come in and set things straight. Goddard can play just about any position on the field, and that’s exactly what the Blues need him to do. Goddard is the type of player to push a team over the (premiership) line. If he doesn’t, a major re-tooling could be on hand for the navy Blues.
COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES: Quentin Lynch (unrestricted)
Collingwood is too smart to be putting all its eggs in the Travis Cloke basket right about now. They’ll be looking straight to the forward line in the off-season, Cloke or no Cloke. The Q-Stick would be a perfect replacement, assuming Cloke isn’t in black and white next season. Lynch is virtually a slightly less accurate version of Travis Cloke, right down to the glove. With Darren Jolly probably not around for much longer, and no other 120-minute ruckman on their list, who else could they possibly consider?
ESSENDON BOMBERS: Harry O’Brien (restricted)
I’ll be the first to say it; Dustin Fletcher is not going to be around forever, as much as he thinks he will be. After Jobe Watson’s “lack of class” comments, how much better can you do than picking up Harry O’Brien? As a strong and hard-running CHB, O’Brien would provide a brilliant link between the Bombers’ backline and talented midfield. While Jake Carlisle is being touted as Essendon’s next Fletch, he’s currently performing a disappearing act. There’s no way the Bombers wouldn’t like to poach this Magpie.
FREMANTLE DOCKERS: Heath Scotland (restricted)
While Fremantle seem one of the top landing spots for Travis Cloke, they seem to have forgotten the existence of their club’s greatest player Matthew Pavlich, who is in career-best form. Where Fremantle’s main problem lies is in their inexperienced backline. Zac Dawson, who followed Ross Lyon over from the Saints, seems to have a case of Carlisle-itis. The Freo backline would greatly benefit from this experienced old-timer. Since he’s at his second club, it’s not unreasonable to expect Scotland to happily join a third.
GEELONG CATS: Travis Boak
This deal may have already been verbally done. Nothing would please the classy midfielder more than a return to his hometown and to play footy in front of the Kardinia crowd. The Cats do have plenty of older statesmen coming off the books at the end of this year, and a few of them may not return. Adding Boak will supply for the future (he’s only 24) and make it seem like no one had left. Who knows, Boak may be sitting at home reading this right now with the blue and white hoops on…
GOLD COAST SUNS: Kurt Tippett
We saw how much the Suns backline improved this year with the addition of an average contributor in Matthew Warnock. One wonders how much could the Suns forward line could improve with Tippett at the helm. The Suns have struggled with targets up front over the past two seasons, with Sam Day not coming along as fast as they would have hoped. But when he does come around, a Day-Tippett forward line would be one of the best in the league. Both players have ceilings higher than four Yao Mings on top of each other. The Suns would definitely have both eyes on Tippett, as I doubt there would be any on the upcoming two games.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY GIANTS: Brendon Goddard (restricted)
I was tempted to say “anyone” for the Giants, but that’d be too easy. But I did the next best thing. Brendon Goddard basically is anyone, as I explained in my Carlton paragraph. The Giants could do with as much experience as possible, in any area of the field. While Goddard isn’t the oldest player on the market, he’d no doubt be a solid contributor anywhere he’s played next year to push the Giants past at least five wins for next season. Besides, the oldest player on the market will probably end up in a Giants jersey as well.
HAWTHORN HAWKS: Nathan Lovett-Murray (unrestricted)
It’s hard to fault the Hawks in any one area, and Lovett-Murray would be a great acquisition for any position on the park. He’d certainly add some extra speed to the midfield, something that the Hawks seem to lack the most, and would come at a pretty low price. While he’d be pretty hard to pry away from Windy Hill, he’d be a lot easier than the beta version of himself, David Wojcinski. Either way, he’d be a solid addition, and he’s proved his worth this year as the Bomber’s sub.
MELBOURNE DEMONS: Travis Cloke (restricted)
Most people think that any acquisition for Melbourne would be a good one. Well, unfortunately for the Demons, that’s not the case. In fact, that’s the very case at hand. Melbourne have too many “okay” players. Each club needs one star, and Travis Cloke could be that star. He’d take some of the goalkicking load off… no one’s hands, and would allow Mitch Clark to move into the ruck if needed. This would be a great step towards rebuilding that Melbourne so desperately need to get a move on with.
NORTH MELBOURNE KANGAROOS: Ben Johnson (unrestricted)
The Roos are another club where it’s hard to fault any position on the ground. Again, this is another club that would benefit from an experience injection in any position. Provided he can stay healthy, Ben Johnson would be perfect for the Roos young backline. Johnson has nearly 230 games under his belt, which I assume is close to the combined total games played by the Roos backline. The Roos also wouldn’t have to worry about him hanging around like a bad smell for too much longer if he doesn’t work out. He’s currently 31 years old, and retirement could be on the cards within the next few.
PORT ADELAIDE POWER: Andrew Embley (unrestricted)
The Power are another club that will unfortunately have to play the waiting game as their plethora of young stars slowly develop into what could one day be a premiership side. To help the developing process they could welcome in Andrew Embley. Admittedly, Embley would be very hard to pry away from West Coast as he has won a premiership there and looks to play out his career there. However, if he were to come across, he could slip into a very inexperienced backline and mentor them until his time came. It’d be a nice way to end a great career.
RICHMOND TIGERS: Luke McPharlin (unrestricted)
While most would fail to see the upside of the Mark of the Year 2005 winner this late in his career, the Richmond Tigers certainly would. In a previous life McPharlin was a forward, and a lack of tall forwards has at times hurt the Tiges. McPharlin would come cheap as he is at the closing stages of his career. He’d be a handy key position player as the Tigers look for a more long-term forward option.
ST KILDA SAINTS: Ryan Crowley (unrestricted)
St Kilda have a legion of great players out of contract at the end of the season and, save for a godsend, they won’t be getting them all back. Plenty of those players are midfielders, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to sign a midfielder or two as insurance. One of those two should be Ryan Crowley from the Dockers. He’s a great young midfielder who loves to kick goals loping through the middle of the ground. He’d definitely be a fit replacement for any one of those uncontracted Saints.
SYDNEY SWANS: Lynden Dunn (unrestricted)
Mitch Morton was recruited by the Swans last year to kick goals. But Morton has not kicked any goals this year. In fact, last weekend against the Bulldogs was his first game for the team. The Swans could really do with another person comfortable in front of goals, who won’t mind taking a back seat when Sam Reid becomes their forward of the future. Lynden Dunn could be that man. He averages nearly a goal a game, and would certainly add some power to the Swans’ makeshift forward line.
WEST COAST EAGLES: Nathan Foley (restricted)
The Eagles are another team that don’t need to be big players during the off-season. But for arguments sake, they could always do with another high-flying forward such as Nathan Foley. Foley is greatly underrated and has a brilliantly high ceiling, even though he’s nearly in the middle of his career. He has had a horror run with injuries, but if he can stay healthy he’d be a nice addition to this stacked Eagles side.
WESTERN BULLDOGS: Brad Sewell (restricted)
Pulling Sewell away from the Hawks would be a mighty effort, but one worthwhile. Apart from Brian Lake, the Bulldogs backline is fairly lacking. And Lake is already starting to show signs of slowing down. Sewell would be another great anchor in the backline for the Doggies, and would give the Footscray members a reason to smile on a relatively dim year.