With the trade period now over, we look to the draft in December with great optimism and anticipation, and a great selection of picks.
Over the past week and a half, we have been able to continue to re-shape our list for the future and bring in some talented players from other clubs who will not only make us a much better side, but will really enable us to succeed and achieve great things in the coming years. This of course meant making some hard decisions and we farewelled some great servants of our club.
The list management team which also includes Brady Rawlings, Scott Clayton and Mark Finnigan, is solely focused on building a list that will have us contending for finals and another flag as soon as possible.
We targeted players to fulfil specific roles, and those who we believe have their best footy in front of them and can help us play an exciting and sustainable brand of football.
While we have prioritised youth and the next few drafts to achieve our goal of sustained on-field success, we know the players we will be bringing in will complement our existing proven players and stars such as Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington, Todd Goldstein, Robbie Tarrant, Jarred Polec, Aaron Hall, Jed Anderson, Luke McDonald, Josh Walker, Trent Dumont, Kayne Turner and Shaun Atley.
Each move we made was in line with our list management strategy. We still have the ability to sign some delisted free agents and swap picks right up until the draft on the 7th of December. We will look at all options to continue to build our list for success.
Our first acquisition, Aidan Corr, joined us as a restricted free agent, signing a five-year-deal after GWS elected not to match our offer. He is 26, and a versatile defender that can play on small and tall forwards. He comes with experience, having played 98 games including two finals series for the Giants since being drafted in 2012.
We also secured Lachie Young from the Western Bulldogs, as well as the Brisbane Lions’ pick 70 in exchange for our pick 63. Lachie fits the direction we are heading in and fills a need in our backline. At 21, he is an athletic rebounding defender who intercepts the ball well and has plenty of upside.
We were also able to bring in the talented forward duo in Jaidyn Stephenson and Atu Bosenavulagi from Collingwood. Stephenson won the 2018 NAB Rising Star Award, his nomination coming after a standout performance in Round 4 when he kicked five goals against the Adelaide Crows.
At 21-years-old, Stephenson brings excitement, speed and genuine goal-kicking power to our club. He also brings finals experience having featured in Collingwood’s finals campaigns over the past three years, including the 2018 Grand Final.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Bosenavulagi will bring speed, tackling pressure and power that will be valuable in the front half of the ground. We believe Atu’s best football is in front of him.
Stephenson and Bosenavulagi were brought in with pick 39 from the Pies, in exchange for pick 26, 33 and 70, a trade made possible with the draft hand we acquired after farewelling Ben Brown.
We also farewelled Shaun Higgins, who together with Ben are two players that have been fantastic contributors, members and ambassadors of our club. I can’t stress enough how hard it was to let these guys go, but must reiterate that we are making such moves in order to re-shape our list and give ourselves the best chance to contend as quickly as possible.
Getting pick 30 for Shaun, and 26, 33 and the Demons’ future 4th round selection (currently tied to the Brisbane Lions) in exchange for Brown, along with our pick 28 and future 4th rounder, has enabled us to further strengthen our draft hand and bring in more talent, which is an investment in our future. Without the Brown trade, we wouldn’t have been able to pull off what we consider a real coup in acquiring Stephenson.
Our new Shinboners in Aidan, Lachie, Jaidyn and Atu add to an exciting group of young players which already includes five Rising Stars in Bailey Scott, Tarryn Thomas, Nick Larkey, Cameron Zurhaar and Curtis Taylor - add Stephenson and it is six.
Then there are the likes of Jy Simpkin, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Ben McKay, Kyron Hayden, Jack Mahony, Flynn Perez and Tristan Xerri who have all taken great leaps forward in their development. Charlie Comben is also an athletic key-position player who we have high hopes for.
We are confident this young group of players, together with our senior players will hold us in good stead for the future.
In 2020 we had the most players in the 26-29 age group but finished 17th on the ladder. That told us in no uncertain terms that we need to re-shape our list. As it stands, we have two first round draft picks (2, 11), as well as picks 30, 39, 71 and 81, and we like the position we are in.
Thanks as always for your ongoing support. I hope I have been able to shed some light into our thinking off the back of what we consider a successful and promising trade period.