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Retirement, Unretirements, and Temporary Delistings

McDonald-Tipungwuti Back? (file photo)

Roster changes in the leadup to the AFL draft later this month continued at Gold Coast, Essendon, and Adelaide. In early November, inaugural Sun Rory Thompson announced his retirement citing ongoing knee issues as the reason. Thompson, 31, played 106 games for the Suns and leaves as the longest serving player in the club's short history. He was a local zone selection for the club and was one of only four players from the Gold Coast region selected for their inaugural 2011 season.

Two knee reconstructions disrupted his career, and he made a comeback early this season after almost four years on the sidelines. In making the announcement, Thompson said, “It’s been such a long journey with so many ups and downs and wonderful people ... I’m super grateful to the Suns for giving me that opportunity so many years ago as a young kid and having stuck with me all this time, it’s pretty hard to put into words what that means to me ... Towards the end of last year it was getting hard to back up games and keep my body moving and it just felt like the right time ... I ... didn’t think I would get drafted, so to go to where I am now after 14 years, I’m very proud of myself and the work I’ve put in and very grateful to the people that have helped me get this far.”

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October List Changes, and Trade, Father-Son News

Naismith Gets the Tap-Out

In mid-October, the Kangaroos and Adelaide traded draft selections, allowing the Roos to move up a notch or two in the draft order. North received selection 23 in this year's draft in exchange for pick 59 and a future second-round selection. Gold Coast, Sydney, and West Coast delisted players while Essendon looks to get twin "favorite sons".

The Kangaroos also delisted midfielder Jared Polec. Polec was originally drafted by Brisbane but was later traded to Port Adelaide. He joined North at the end of the 2018 season and played every game in 2019. However, he was restricted to 18 games over the next two seasons due to injury. He was delisted at the end of 2021 and added to the rookie list. Polec, 30, was hampered by a foot injury early in the season and required surgery.

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The Departures Begin

Oscar McDonald (file photo)

Delistings and trade requests have started and first out of the gate were Brisbane, Essendon, Carlton, and Port Adelaide. Port has delisted three players and confirmed wingman Karl Amon will depart as an unrestricted free agent.. Throughout much of the season, it was speculated that Amon, 27 desired a return home to Victoria. Hawthorn, Carlton and St Kilda were all interested but he has opted for the Hawks and will sign in October when the free agency period opens. List manager Jason Cripps said, “Karl has been an outstanding clubman ... and he should be commended for his professionalism and maturity ... ".

The three delisted players are former Brisbane Lion Sam Skinner, father-son selection Taj Schofield, and midfielder Sam Mayes. Skinner, 25, was drafted by Brisbane in 2015 and played 3 games in an injury-riddled stint before being delisted at the end of 2020. Port signed him as a delisted free agent but he managed just 2 games for Port. Schofield is the son of former player Jarrad Schofield and was rookie-listed in 2020 but never made a senior appearance. Mayes, 28, was drafted by Brisbane in 2013 and played 101 games before requesting a trade home to South Australia at the end of 2018. He played 20 games for Port.

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Tiger Caddy Retires

Just ahead of round eight, inaugural Sun and two-time Tiger premiership midfielder/forward Josh Caddy, 29, announced his immediate retirement after 12 injury-riddled seasons in which he played 174 games and kicked 164 goals. He was originally drafted by the Suns in 2010 ahead of their entry into the AFL and played 24 games in two seasons. He requested a trade back to Victoria for family reasons and moved to Geelong at the end of 2012. He went on to play 71 games for the Cats before being traded to Richmond at the end of 2016.

He had an excellent first season as a Tiger, playing 22 games, including the premiership. He followed up in 2018 with 46 goals, was nominated for All-Australian, and was in the top 10 for the Coleman Medal (AFL goal kicking) and Richmond's best and fairest. The next season in 2019 saw him start as a forward but he was later moved to a wing position. He was a member of Richmond's 2019 premiership team.

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Suns Burn Depleted Eagles

Hurn Leads the Eagles (2018)

The Gold Coast Suns celebrated their first away win against the West Coast Eagles in a performance that showed the growing maturity of the young Suns. Matt Rowell played his strongest game for the Suns, since returning from injury, to re-ignite the hype surrounding his brilliant entry to league ranks. The Suns’ new captain Touk Miller was inspired by his young charges and steadied the Suns at crucial parts of the game. Izak Rankine was dangerous up forward and used his growing maturity to steady when needed and kick four goals for the visitors. The Eagles were missing six of their ten best players but were well served by the enthusiasm of their young reserve players Luke Foley and Jamaine Jones. Former Richmond player, Patrick Naish, seized his chance to impress.

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AFL Life Memberships and Jack Titus Award Announced

Grant Birchall vs Jordan Roughead

In early February, the AFL announced the next inductees for life membership and the Jack Titus Award, which is given annually for service to the game. The awards and the memberships will be officially presented at the league's AGM in March.

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Free Agency and Other Signings

Campbell Clips Kersten

The AFL free agency period opened in early November and ran through November 9. Several delisted players found new homes. Players who have been delisted can join any club that offers them a contract and would therefore avoid having to enter the AFL draft later this month. All clubs then filed a list lodgment (current playing lists) on November 10 and another round begins on November 10 and runs through November 15.

Sacked Crow Tyson Stengle joined Geelong as a delisted free agent. Stengle, 22, played two games for Richmond and 16 games for the Crows over a four-year period but a string of off-field indiscretions saw the Crows decide to cancel his contract. In the SANFL this year, Stengle kicked 44 goals in 19 games, including nine goals in three finals. He is set to reunite with former teammate Eddie Betts, who has taken up an off-field role at the Cats.

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Delistings and Retirements, 2021 Part Five

Brooksby Tackled

A few days after the Semi-finals, West Coast announced three departures. Mark Hutchings and Brendon Ah Chee were delisted and ruckman Nathan Vardy retired. Hutchings, 30, played 120 games in nine seasons. He was a member of the 2018 Grand Final and played a key role in the game, shutting down Magpie star Steele Sidebottom.

Ah Chee, 27, was originally drafted by Port Adelaide in 2011 and played 27 games with the Power before being traded to the Eagles at the end of 2017. He was delisted and re-rookie listed by the Eagles at the end of 2019. He played 28 games for the Eagles. Vardy, 30, was drafted by Geelong in 2011 and played 25 games for the Cats before being traded to the Eagles at the end of 2016 and played 52 games including the 2018 premiership.

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Gold Coast Quartet Bid Farewell

Harbrow Handballs Under Pressure

Gold Coast quartet Jack Hombsch, Jordan Murdoch, Jarrod Harbrow and Zac Smith have all announced their retirements. Hombsch and Murdoch played for the Suns for three seasons. Hombsch played just 18 games for the Suns after stints with GWS and Port Adelaide. Hombsch said, “It’s something that’s been in the works a little bit this season, but I feel pretty comfortable with the decision. Playing for three clubs I’m pretty grateful for because you just meet so many good people along the way ... I’ll certainly miss the footy club and I’ll miss playing AFL because it’s one of the best jobs going around.”

Murdoch started with Geelong before joining Gold Coast and played 110 games across 10 seasons. Murdoch said, “I feel I’m ready to begin the next step in my life. My wife Emma has followed me for 10 years and I think it’s time I take a back seat and let her follow her dreams. She’s been right there and incredible support for me throughout my career ... My highlights have been to see the development of the young guys at the club and chip in with bits and pieces that I’ve learned along the way and just try to help them.”

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2020 Preseason and Rookie Draft

Goldsack Tackles Kennedy

The preseason and rookie drafts were held about a week after the National Draft. The rookie list was primarily used to officially relist senior players as rookies. They included Grant Birchall (Brisbane), Sam Reid (GWS Giants), Marty Gleeson (Essendon), Dylan Clarke (Essendon), Roarke Smith (Western Bulldogs), Daniel Venables (West Coast) and Bailey Banfield (Fremantle).

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