by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
With free agency in full swing, the AFL also set up a process which allowed delisted free agents to be signed by other clubs. Hawthorn wasted no time in signing midfielder Jonathan Simpkin, who was delisted by Geelong. Simpkin played his junior football with the Geelong Falcons and was drafted as a rookie in 2006 by Sydney and then elevated to the seniors. He was delisted at the end of 2007 without having played a senior game. He returned to Victoria and played with his local club Colac in the Geelong Football League.
Recruited from the Geelong Falcons, Simpkin was picked up by the Swans in the first round of the 2006 Rookie Draft and elevated to the club’s senior list that year. After being delisted at the end of 2007, Simpkin returned to play football with his home town of Colac in the Geelong Football League before spending three years with Geelong's VFL team. He was drafted by the Cats as a rookie in 2011 and played 19 games in the VFL in 2012, including the VFL Premiership win over Port Melbourne. He also won consecutive VFL Best and Fairest awards. He played four senior games with the Cats in 2012, including Geelong's Elimination Final loss to Fremantle.
Hawthorn’s Recruiting and List Manager Graham Wright said Simpkin, 25, would add to the Cats' midfield depth and had good speed and endurance.
Source: Leah Mirabella, Hawthorn Media Release
Rugby convert Israel Folau announced at the end of October that he was quitting GWS to return to rugby. In making the announcement, he said he just did not have the passion for Aussie Rules. Folau was in the second season of a four year contract believed to be worth $6 million. He said he enjoyed his time with the Giants and insisted his switch of codes two years ago was not a mistake.
The Giants reluctantly accepted Folau's decision after he informed Coach Kevin Sheedy, CEO Dave Matthews and football manager Graeme "Gubby" Allan. Matthews said Folau had achieved a lot in his short stint with GWS and praised his courage for deciding to go back. Although the potential was there, many, including respected media personality Robert Walls, saw that Folau did struggle to adapt to the game. Walls said on SEN recently that he had watched Folau and assessed him as slow, unable to read the play and often unable to get to the right position on the field. Sheedy said it was disapppointing to lose Folau and believes he is leaving without finishing the job.
Within the wider football community, there is some debate whether or not Folau's presence at GWS helped boost the profile of the team and the game in an area mostly dominated by rugby and their cross-town rival the Sydney Swans. AFL boss Andrew Demetriou had no doubt, saying Folau had been a "terrific ambassador" and said Folau's decision to give the game a try inspired children in NSW and QLD to watch and try footy.
Prior to signing with GWS, Folau had starred with National Rugby League teams Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos. However, he has already been linked to the Parramatta Eels where his 19-year old brother Eni plays. Parramatta is a western suburb of Sydney. Parramatta has already been in contact with his manager. Folau said it would be nice to join his brother, but he has made no definite plans, is leaving everything up to his management and has not ruled out a switch to rugby union.
For the record, Folau, primarily a forward, played 13 games and finished his career with two goals, 39 kicks, 41 handballs, 18 tackles and 65 hit-outs.
Source: afl.com.au, SEN Radio
Ruckman Ben Hudson announced his retirement shortly after the trade period. A mature age recruit drafted from the VFL by Adelaide in 2003, he played 55 games for the Crows before being traded to the Bulldogs who then traded him to Brisbane at the end 2011. An early season Achilles injury to Matthew Leuenberger saw Hudson become the main ruckman in 18 games. It was more than he or the Lions expected him to play. Hudson, 33, said he enjoyed his brief stint with the Lions and relished the opportunity to play in his home state of Queensland. Of the Lions, he said the club has a talented list of young players and believes success is not far away. He indicated a desire to remain in the industry.
General manager Dean Warren said Hudson had been one of the club's most valuable recruits and said his his positive attitude, on-field leadership and sense of humor would be missed by everyone at the club.
The club has delisted Sam Sheldon, Bryce Retzlaff, James Hawksley, Cheynee Stiller, Josh Dyson and Brad Harvey.
Source: Kate Stevens, Brisbane Media Release
Shortly after trade week, St Kilda terminated Jason Gram's contract following his arrest for failing to comply with a restraining order filed by an ex-girlfriend. The Saints said they had been working with Gram for a number of months in an effort to help him with off-field behavior. The club was concerned that his behavior contravened the values of the club. The repeated attempts failed. Gram was previously arrested in early September and the club imposed an indefinite suspension and arranged for his participation in an AFLPA counseling program.
However, according to club sources, the inappropriate behavior continued and Gram was told by club officials that he was out. His manager and the AFL were also notified. The club said they would continue to try to assist Gram and his former partner with professional counseling and support services.
Gram, who still had one year on his contract, played two games for Brisbane in 2003 before being traded to the Saints. He played 154 games as a wingman/half back for the Saints.
Source: Vanessa Gigliotti, St Kilda Media Release, AFL Record Season Guide
Article last changed on Friday, February 01, 2013 - 10:13 PM EST