Richmond Tigers ruck/forward Mabior Chol will return to Queensland in the upcoming free agency period after agreeing to terms with the Gold Coast Suns.
On the same day that the 17th club announced decorated former Richmond captain, Wayne Campbell, as their new General Manager of Football Performance, the club landed its first target in the 2021 offseason.
Chol meets a position of need for the Suns as a mobile marking target with goal sense and the size to provide a chop out for the regular ruckman, as he did for much of this season at the Tigers as their ruck division was depleted.
A product of the Brisbane Lions Academy, Chol went undrafted by his club and ended up being taken in the rookie draft by Richmond and was the first of four players scouted by the Tigers from Brisbane’s youth program in recent years.
Because Chol is an unrestricted free agent and was previously delisted and re-rookied, all that needs to occur is the paperwork to be filed early next month and the move will be finalised.
Richmond will be hoping that the deal for Chol is substantial enough to warrant the AFL issuing a possible compensation pick, although details of contract length and salary were not divulged.
Bombers fans wishing for Chol to swap his yellow sash for a red one will be disappointed, although Windy Hill has one of the tallest lists in the AFL and the 24-year-old preferred to go to a club with better chances of playing top-level footy.
St Kilda had put in a late offer to Chol, but the temptation of returning home closer to family – something that is becoming increasingly cited as a motivating factor for player transfers during the pandemic – won over the big man, with his agent announcing the news on Wednesday evening.
He is the fifth fringe Tigers player to join the Suns in recent seasons after Anthony Miles and Corey Ellis came in the 2018 trade period, Brandon Ellis came in the 2019 free agency period and Oleg Markov came in last year’s trade period.
Although he hasn’t been chosen in any of the grand final teams, he did play in the 2020 qualifying final loss to Brisbane and rounded off a breakout 2019 with a VFL premiership.
For a young man who began life in the Sudanese civil war and came to Australia as a refugee at age 8, Chol has led a far from ordinary life and his homecoming will be welcomed by his large family, while the local South Sudanese community will welcome having such a role model with Chol’s years of experience volunteering with refugee youth in Melbourne.
The Suns had also put an offer in front of Callum Coleman-Jones, who has decided to pursue a trade with North Melbourne, but that story will have much more to play out given the clubs will start far apart on trade value and they have the whole trade period to bargain.
The Gold Coast has so far announced four list changes, with foundation Suns Jarrod Harbrow and Zac Smith, plus Jack Hombsch and Jordan Murdoch announcing their respective retirements, leaving the Suns with two vacant rookie spots and a lot of list shuffling to come.