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.
Two days after Melbourne's Grand Final victory, it was back to business for the club with three players being delisted, one retiring and another deciding to look for better opportunities elsewhere. Jay Lockhart, Aaron Nietschke and Austin Bradtke were delisted, while Aaron vandenBerg will seek opportunities elsewhere and Neville Jetta announced his retirement. Lockhart played twenty-two games since joining the club as a preseason supplemental selection in 2019. Bradtke and Nietschke never played a senior game with the latter suffering three ACL injuries in his time at the club, vandenBerg played 51 games for the club.
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.
In early September, Collingwood announced the appointment of former Brisbane premiership player Craig McRae as the new senior coach. McRae, 47, beat out Richmond assistant Adam Kingsley after former Adelaide coach Don Pyke pulled out. McRae said of his appointment, "We're in the position of just getting as good as we can as quick as we can - we don't want to put a ceiling on that. I spoke to the playing group before and my appointment offers opportunity and possibility. I'm pretty pumped, let's face it, this is a significant part of my journey and it's been a long one." As a premiership player with Brisbane and an assistant at Hawthorn under Alastair Clarkson in 2021, he knows what it takes to win and said, "I have been fortunate to witness up close and share in some very successful programs and I know that teaching solid habits can build a winning habit of its own. "
Hawthorn champion Shaun Burgoyne has retired. The game against Richmond in Round 23 was his 407th. He advised his teammates earlier in the week leading up to that game. In early July, he became just the fifth player in league history to notch 400 games. His match tally is the most of any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander player in AFL history. Burgoyne was originally drafted by Port Adelaide in 2000 and debuted in 2002. He played 157 games with Port before crossing to Hawthorn at the end of 2009.
Head of Football Rob McCartney praised Burgoyne for his work both on and off the field, “I know I speak on behalf of anyone and everyone that has crossed paths with Shaun over his football journey in saying that it has been an honor to work alongside a man of his character and skill. He is the epitome of what we value at Hawthorn, with his immense commitment to family values whilst also possessing a relentlessness to constantly strive to get the best out of himself as well as those around him ...".
Earlier this month, the Hawks - led by president Jeff Kennett - announced a succession plan which would see club legend Sam Mitchell take over as coach from Clarkson at the conclusion of next season. However, there were reports that neither Clarkson nor Mitchell were happy with the terms of the agreement. Meetings were held following Round 20 involving CEO Justin Reeves and football director Richie Vandenberg, as well as members of the senior leadership group, who communicated the situation wasn't working.
In mid-April, Collingwood signed a basketball player from Senegal. Bassirou Faye, 18, has committed to the Pies on an International Rookie Scholarship. Currently still in his homeland, he will relocate to Australia in late May. Faye, who stands 202 cm (6'5") has never played Australian Rules but had been training with the Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB league and looked impressive with his athleticism. He was forced to return to Senegal due to visa issues.
Faye originally arrived in Australia hoping for a career in basketball but switched to footy through former Tiger and Hawk Tyrone Vickery. Oakleigh's general manager put Faye through a two-month training program at the beginning of this year before Faye joined the Chargers for several sessions.
Just as Round Five was getting underway, Jonathon Patton announced his immediate retirement from all levels of football. Patton, 27, was the number one draft selection in 2011, being snapped up by the Giants. He has struggled with injuries across his eight-year career. He played 89 games for GWS before being traded to Hawthorn at the end of 2019 but has managed just six games for the Hawks. The injury issues are only one part of the story. In January, he was stood down from Hawthorn after at least four women complained that he sent them lewd and explicit photos, videos, and messages on social media. He was later hospitalized for mental health issues and released in March. Since his release, the AFL Integrity Unit is free to interview him and ramp up their investigations.
In making the announcement, Patton said, “I have made the difficult decision to retire ... to focus on my health, wellbeing, and future outside of the game.
With a rare tropical cyclone approaching Perth’s inland areas, the Fremantle Dockers withstood a stormy challenge from the Hawthorn Hawks to win a second home game. The Hawks were again slow to start, allowing Fremantle to dominate in the first term. If the Dockers had kicked accurately for a goal in the blustery conditions, the game would have been over at quarter time.
Returning from a forced layoff due to concussion, Nat Fyfe began in the center of the ground for the Dockers and the home team dominated clearances in the first quarter. When Fyfe was not winning clearances, it was veteran David Mundy or Caleb Serong. Sean Darcy and Matt Taberner were active in the forward line and Taberner finished with two goals for the quarter. The Hawks had scored only two behinds (worth a point each).
The AFL Supplementary Selection Period (SSP) ended on March 9 with eight clubs selecting 12 players. Several had been delisted by other clubs and were invited to train with other clubs in the hope of being selected. Below are the clubs and their selections.