One of the biggest out-of-contract names got pulled off the board very early yesterday, with Greater Western Sydney star Lachie Whitfield inking a seven-year deal to remain at the club.
GWS coach Leon Cameron is keeping an open mind about the prospect of playing for AFL premiership points in the United States, having detailed his pride at the expansion club’s bold vision.
The Giants are in the embryonic stage of talks with the AFL regarding playing a home game in the US.
There are a number of hurdles to clear, most notably finding a suitable venue, but Port Adelaide’s Shanghai experiment shows that it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.
The league most recently took a exhibition game to the US in 2006, when John Travolta, Hugh Jackman and Olivia Newton-John were among the crowd of 3,000 in Los Angeles.
The oval used for that fixture at the University of California-Los Angeles now has synthetic turf.
Hosting an AFLX series would be an easier goal for the league, given how widely available rectangular fields are in the US.
However, the Giants are keen to show Americans the real thing.
The project could create various logistical challenges for Cameron, who featured in London exhibition games during his playing career, but he is more excited than cynical about the latest attempt to expand the sport outside its homeland.
“As Kevin Sheedy always said, you have to keep exploring ways to grow our game,” Cameron told reporters.
“We’ve got some really good connections in America and we’re really lucky in that part, and the AFL clearly likes to grow the game as well.
“The thing I like about our club is that we’re bold and we want to be aggressive in terms of promoting the game and our footy club … we’re willing and able to have those discussions.
“Where that leads to I don’t know but it’s great to be a part of …if it leads down that path (of playing in the US) then I think it’s only a good thing.”
GWS, who are unable to play games at Giants Stadium when it is used as the base for Sydney’s Royal Easter Show, already have a contract with the ACT government to play three games in Canberra each season.