Notes and observations from Day Five of the 2022 AFL Trade Period.
Tanner Bruhn joins the Cats
Tanner Bruhn is on his way home to Geelong, with the GWS Giants receiving pick No.18 in exchange for the midfielder, who, let’s be honest here, looked less-than-thrilled to be a Giant from the moment he was drafted and was always likely to get himself back home at the earliest opportunity.
And with a CV that reads Newtown & Chilwell, Geelong Grammar and the Geelong Falcons, it was all but certain that he would be heading not just back to Victoria, but to the Cats, which Isaac Smith described earlier this year as one “that feels like a country football club that sometimes rocks up to the MCG to play big games.”
Post COVID, Geelong has sold itself as the perfect place to play AFL football. The quiet suburbs, the nearby hobby farms and the equidistant surf coast has become a real draw. The likes of Smith and Jeremy Cameron, and Zac Tuohy before them, have been sold an idyllic lifestyle to go with the opportunity at playing for one of the best teams in the competition.
It likely helped sway Gold Coast wantaway Jack Bowes to also select the Cats when the Essendon and Hawthorn opportunities, at least from a pure football perspective, were likely equally compelling.
For Bruhn, the Cats was much about home cooking as anything. And yes, eventually, the 30-somethings will retire and spots in the team will open up. Already, Joel Selwood’s midfield berth is up for grabs.
Ollie Henry is also returning to Geelong, the region, as well as the club, and the exchange of picks late Friday between the Cats and the Lions, which saw the Cats get their hands on pick 25, should be enough to secure Henry from Collingwood.
But whether it is homesick locals or more seasoned veterans looking for an AFL sea change, Geelong has become the destination club of the AFL and that looks set to be the case for the foreseeable future.
Who can still can themselves a destination club?
In fact, there is something of a divide emerging in the AFL when it comes to the preferred clubs for players to join.
Once upon a time it used to be Hawthorn, but those days are long gone. Sam Mitchell is re-building a great club but the Hawks remain far away from being a destination club they once were.
So apart from the Cats, which clubs, shall we say belong in the ‘First Division’ of destination clubs?
RICHMOND: The memory of the three flags in five years remains vivid. Great coach, great culture and at least 50,000 rabid fans at the MCG every second week. What’s not to like?
COLLINGWOOD: See above, save for the flags. That heart-stopping run home to the finals was intoxicating. With Craig McRae and Justin Leppitsch in charge, there is a strong chance that your best football is yet to come.
CARLTON: Call it the allure of the sleeping giant. Carlton has established an exciting reputation even though that last finals appearance is now a decade ago. The Blues have signed all their big names to long-term deals, but if you can find your way to Royal Parade to play alongside, Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh, Charlie Curnow, Harry McKay and Jacob Weitering, to name just a few, you would jump at the opportunity.
BRISBANE: The weather, the midfield, the packed Gabba and a premiership window that remains ajar despite four failed finals campaign. Josh Dunkley and Jack Gunston clearly like what they see.
FREMANTLE: We remarked earlier this week that these are strange days for West Australian football. Fremantle, and not West Coast, is the place to be. Talent across every line, a great coach and a rabid fan base. It’s the right place and right time to play for Fremantle.
MELBOURNE: Max Gawn, Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver as teammates? Clearly good enough for Brodie Grundy, who was on a good thing at Collingwood.
There is a case to be made that Port Adelaide is something of a destination club, while Sydney is also a brilliant organisation, albeit one that tends to take things more quietly at this time of the year.
But the remaining clubs are, for now, in the second division. They have some work to do.
GWS’ enormous draft hand continues to build
The Giants have a killer draft hand, and following the Bruhn trade on Friday, now have five of the first 19 picks at next month’s national draft - 3, 12, 15, 18 and 19. They also have picks 44, 61 and 63.
Reports than emerged in the afternoon that they are in talks with North Melbourne to obtain the first selection overall in exchange for some of those aforementioned picks.
It makes all the sense in the world. The Giants have more picks than need, while North, whose next pick after the first overall, is currently no.59. The Kangas need quality and quantity when it comes to the draft and could yet be major players next month if the mooted three-way trade with Port and the Eagles, with Jason Horne-Francis at the forefront of it all, ends up happening.