Victorian clubs are circulating a ‘pre agent’ Giants star.
Plus movement on Josh Dunkley’s contract talks with the Dogs, and growing rival interest in Dyson Heppell amid his uncertain Bombers future.
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JACOB HOPPING OUT OF GWS?
AFL Media is reporting that a clutch of Victorian clubs are interested in recruiting GWS star midfielder Jacob Hopper.
Hopper can become a free agent at the end of next year — referred to as ‘pre agents’ — but the Giants have been known to trade out players early in order to maximize compensation.
For instance, in 2018, GWS traded out Dylan Shiel to Essendon for a pair of first-round draft picks, rather than wait another year for Shiel to depart as a free agent and receive just the one selection from the AFL.
Geelong and Richmond are believed to be the frontrunners for Hopper’s services if the Giants academy product decides to start afresh elsewhere.
Essendon have shown interest in Hopper in the past, and would likely do so again, especially considering their need for big-bodied midfielders to bolster their on-ball brigade.
A knee injury has restricted Hopper to just one game this year, all the way back in Round 1, but he is building towards a senior recall in the coming weeks.
HEPPELL FUTURE IN LIMBO
Essendon captain Dyson Heppell is still yet to receive a contract offer from the Bombers for the 2023 season amid growing rival interest, according to AFL Media.
In the first half of the season, Heppell appeared to be a player destined for retirement, producing a host of performances that suggested the game had gone passed him.
However, in the past month or so, he has enjoyed a stunning uptick in form to be one of Essendon’s most consistent players during their best patch of the season which has seen them win three out of four games.
Rival clubs are believed to be interested in recruiting the 30-year-old for next year if he can’t come to terms on a new deal with the Bombers.
DUNKLEY CLOSER TO NEW DEAL
According to SEN’s Sam Edmund, contract talks between Western Bulldogs star Josh Dunkley and the club have intensified.
Dunkley is having one of his best seasons, ranking first at the Bulldogs for tackles, third for contested possessions, equal third for goal assists, fourth for disposals, fourth for clearances and fourth for goals. He’s also No.8 in the AFL for tackles.
“(Dunkley) now appears highly likely to stay and was perhaps always going to take the longest to negotiate among the glut of out-of-contract Dogs players,” Edmund said.
Dunkley came close to leaving the Bulldogs at the end of 2020 when he requested a trade to Essendon. But the Bulldogs refused to honor the request and Dunkley has subsequently seen out the final two years of his contract at Whitten Oval.
CARLTON PULLS OUT OF RACE FOR AMON
The Blues have withdrawn from the race for Port Adelaide free agent Karl Amon, reports TheAge.
Amon, 26, has drawn interest from several more Victorian clubs including St Kilda, Melbourne and Hawthorn, with the latter considered the favorite for his services, amid reports the winger could field offers worth around $650,000 a season over five years.
It’s believed Carlton still has some salary cap room, but isn’t keen to pay the premium price for Amon.
The Blues will reportedly instead prioritize retaining their big names and returning to the draft after aggressively recruiting players from rival clubs in recent years.
Carlton has only had three selections across the 2021 (Jesse Motlop, Pick 27) and 2020 (Corey Durdin, Pick 37 and Jack Carroll, Pick 41) National Drafts.
The club also has star big men trio Charlie Curnow, Harry McKay and Tom De Koning all coming out of contract next year.
It comes after the Blues have given out lucrative contracts to the likes of Jacob Weitering, Patrick Cripps and Sam Walsh as well as recruits Mitch McGovern, Zac Williams and Jack Martin.
LONGMUIR KEEN TO RETAIN LOBB
Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir says he wants to see Rory Lobb stay at the club amid speculation around the big man’s future.
The Herald Sun’s Jon Ralph reports Lobb, who tried to move back to the Giants last year, is expected to again request a trade, with rivals believing he’ll cross to the Western Bulldogs.
The 29 year old, who’s contracted at Fremantle for 2023, is reportedly seeking a three-year, $1.5 million deal.
Lobb is in the midst of a career-best season, leading the Dockers’ goalkicking with 29 majors from 15 games.
Longmuir didn’t divulge specific details of his recent chats with Lobb, but ensured he remains committed to the cause, for now at least.
“That’s a conversation best left between coach and player. I reassured him that I see him as part of our long-term future,” Longmuir told reporters.
“He reassured me that he’s going to stay in the moment and keep competing the way he’s been competing. Playing the best footy he can for Fremantle is top priority for him at the moment.”
It comes amid reports Fremantle is growing more confident of landing Demons star Luke Jackson at season’s end in a potential huge coup to bolster its key position stocks.
And Longmuir said he’d like to see Lobb stay at the Dockers regardless of what happens with other trades.
“He’s a contracted player, he’s leading our goalkicking. He’s been one of our more consistent forwards for the year, so you don’t really want to lose those types of players,” he said.