The Fremantle Dockers may well be West Coast’s greatest threat in the race for the services of All Australian defender and restricted free agent Jeremy McGovern this year.
We heard some new AFL trade rumours last night that the Dockers are making a serious play to lure McGovern to the club in what would be a major coup and another chapter in a storied rivalry between the two sides.
The Dockers aren’t the only club interested in signing McGovern – Victorian sides are also keen, one reportedly already making him an offer of $7 million over six years.
However Fremantle might be in the best position to win McGovern’s services simply because signing with them would not require the native Western Australian to leave his home state.
They unsuccessfully attempted to lure home his younger brother Mitch from the Adelaide Crows last year.
West Coast reportedly offered McGovern a deal worth $4 million over five years before the start of the season but it appears likely they’ll have to bump up their offer to keep the star backman.
The reaction to McGovern’s defection if he did switch from blue and gold to purple would be something to behold.
There hasn’t been a player to move between the two clubs since they swapped Greg Harding and Daniel Metropolis in 2000 – who combined played just 15 AFL games for their new clubs.
For West Coast fans to see a 25-year-old two-time All Australian defect to their most despised rivals would be something else altogether.
Is it a good fit for Fremantle though? They have put a lot of energy into targetting mature key defenders over the years, including Alex Rance, Harry Taylor and Cale Hooker.
As things stand now though they seem to have a really promising group in that area of the ground with Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling in the senior side, and Griffin Logue a talented young prospect to come in.
McGovern would easily be an upgrade on any one of those three if they brought him in to play defence, and they could also consider sending him into the forward line where he started his career.
Of course, that might not be necessary if the Dockers were to land their other big target, as it was reported alongside the McGovern news that they are closely monitoring Jesse Hogan.
Hogan comes out of contract at the end of 2019 and has since before he even played an AFL game been the subject of rumours that he may look for a trade back to his home state, with Fremantle always seeming the most likely suitor.
Hogan has shown a really impressive ability to play a more mobile centre-half-forward role this year, roaming up the ground and averaging 22 disposals as well as 2.5 goals per game.
If the Dockers landed him they could ask him to play that role, have Matt Taberner as the target close to goal in a Josh Jenkins style role, allowing Cam McCarthy to play as a dangerous third tall.
Who knows if anything will ever come of the endless ‘Hogan to Fremantle’ rumours – certainly not until 2019 at the earliest – but the Dockers may look to recruit a different Demon at the end of 2018.
Fremantle are reportedly one of a number of clubs closely monitoring Angus Brayshaw after he was left out of Melbourne’s side for the first three rounds of the 2018 season.
Brayshaw, a former No.3 draft pick, had an excellent debut season but has struggled with concussion in the time since.
The Dockers drafted his brother, Andrew, with the No.2 pick last year. A third Brayshaw brother, Hamish, is listed with West Coast.
Angus comes out of contract at the end of 2018 and would have to weigh up his options if still only on the fringe of Melbourne’s best 22.
In other trade news, it was reported last week that an AFL ambassador payment to Tom Lynch, if he decides to remain on the Gold Coast, would likely be worth as little as $50,000 or less per year.
It’s a stark contrast to the enormous ambassador payments that the AFL put in front of the likes of Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau as they looked to make a splash in the northern states.
There has long been speculation that the Suns would be able to blow any other team out of the water in terms of dollars thanks to the likelihood that the AFL would kick in a sizeable bonus amount on top.
Instead it seems that the race for Lynch’s services will now be a lot more competitive in terms of what contract value his Victorian suitors can offer.
While Gold Coast have reportedly already put in front of Lynch a seven-year deal totalling more than $10 million, it has been said that Richmond could have as much as $1.2 million per year to offer him.
So the Suns will most likely still have the superior financial offer, but it probably won’t be by so extremely large a margin as to make it near-impossible to refuse.
Hawthorn, his other main suitor, would be less likely to break the bank, but have successfully used the lure of playing under Alastair Clarkson to recruit many players before, and it could be a deciding factor once again.