In early October, the AFL announced four new members for AFL life membership. The new members are Neil Craig, Peggy O'Neal, Kevin Sheehan, and Greg Swann for their respective roles within the game. The formal induction will take place next year during the 2024 season launch. Six players who reached 300 games also qualify by rule. They are: Luke Breust, Dustin Martin, Luke Parker, Isaac Smith, Callan Ward, and Jack Ziebell.
Three clubs made roster changes as the AFL season winds down. Geelong delisted three and Adelaide is facing a trade situation with Shane McAdam. For Brisbane stalwart Daniel Rich, this season will be the last.
Daniel Rich, 33, was drafted in 2008 and soon established himself as an excellent defender. Rich has spent the latter part of the season in the VFL after battling injuries. Ahead of the finals, he has played 375 games but is under no illusion he will be selected. In making the announcement he said, “It’s been a pretty crazy journey with plenty of ups and downs, I have met so many amazing people and close friends ... and I love this Club.
At the end of August, the Western Bulldogs delisted Mitch Hannan. Essendon delisted Alistair Lord, Rhett Montgomerie, and Cian McBride. Geelong player Sam Menegola retired. Brisbane defender Marcus Adams also retired. Hawthorn forward Tyler Brockman wants to go back to Western Australia.
Geelong midfielder Sam Menegola retired after Round 24. He was originally drafted by Hawthorn in 2011 as a rookie but was delisted at the end of the year. The Dockers selected him as a rookie 2012 but he never debuted for them either and was delisted after three seasons. He played in the WAFL in 2015 and was eventually drafted by the Cats t the end of 2015. He played 117 games and kicked 83 goals for the Cats. His 2023 season was marred by injuries. He said, “The time I have had at Geelong has had an immeasurable impact on our lives. I have enjoyed successes, faced challenges, learnt lessons, and developed relationships that will stay with me for a long time. I have had a chance to fulfil a lifelong dream ... ".
General Manager Simon Lloyd said,
Ahead of Round 24, four more players announced their retirements. Tom Jonas, Tom Hickey, Josh Bruce, and Jonathon Ceglar all indicated that their AFL careers were ending.
Port Adelaide captain Tom Jonas will retire at the end of the season. He has been in and out of the team this season. Jonas, 32, said in a club statement, “It’s been a fair roller coaster but for me there have been so many more ups than downs. You reflect on moments that maybe at the time were tough and challenging, exhausting or sad, but ultimately, they’re what makes you appreciate the good times and they’re what make you galvanize relationships and friendships with everyone that you spend time with along the way. The good thing about this for me is that the final chapter hasn’t been written ... For me it was about removing any distraction from the team with what we’ve got to look forward to in the month ahead (i.e., finals) ... ".
Coach Ken Hinkley, who has coached Jonas in 11 of his 13 seasons, said, “Tom has always given his all, whether that is on the field or off it ... He’s had to create his own path right from the start with enormous challenges along the way. While this season he has not always been first choice at selection, the way he has handled himself is the perfect example of his team-first attitude ... ".
Just ahead of round 21, Tiger champion Trent Cotchin and Geelong champion Issac Smith announced their retirements. In speaking to his teammates, Cotchin reflected on the “authentic human connection” and “love” he had experienced during his career. Cotchin then said, “I am going to miss with all my heart the relationships, memories and experiences ... I accept reality ... My body is somewhat slowing down and is older than it once was. I found my life purpose at Richmond. I look to the future ... because of what I found here at Richmond and what Richmond people taught me ... creating an environment to help other realize and fulfill their potential not only inspired me but helped me to overcome my own fears ... I have always given my best and left no stone unturned ... ".
The Fremantle Dockers stunned the Geelong Cats with an upset victory at the Cattery. The Cats started as clear favorites in the match but were caught by the intensity of the Dockers' attack on the ball. The reigning premiers were on a path to the finals but hit a significant road bump on the day that coach Chris Scott set the record for the number of games as a Geelong coach. Although visiting teams rarely win on the narrow ground at GMHBA Stadium, it is the third time in the last six visits that the Dockers have won. The Cats kicked with a breeze that should have offered a three goal advantage in the first quarter but struggled to break free from the pressure the Dockers applied on the ball. The Cats locked the ball in their forward line for long periods but couldn't convert.
The AFL held their annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony in late June. This year's inductees were South Australian player Michael Aish. James Bartel, Corey Enright, South Australian Tom Leahy, broadcaster Bruce McAvaney, Sam Mitchell, and Mark Williams. Bartel and Enright were inducted together due to their roles as teammates at Geelong during the Cats' dominant period\d and premiership success (see details below). Former St Kilda champ Nick Riewoldt was also a candidate this year, but will be inducted next year when he and his family return from living in the USA (his wife is an American from Texas). Players are eligible after five years of retirement. Coaches, umpires, administrators, and media representatives are eligible after retirement.
The mid-season draft was held at the end of May with clubs allowed to fill out their lists provided they had open spots available. Often these are players who were either overlooked in the regular drafts or they are "mature-age" players who perhaps weren't ready to be drafted at 18 or 19 years old.
The number of the pick precedes the name of the player selected and the current club of the player follows their name. Two rounds were held but not all clubs had picks in either round. Carlton, Gold Coast, Adelaide, St Kilda, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Collingwood didn’t participate in the draft as they didn’t have any available list places. GWS had selections 5 and 14 but passed on both. Clubs are listed in alphabetic order.
(9) JAIDEN HUNTER (Perth, WAFL), 21, 190cm (6'1"), 93kg (204 lbs), tall forward
Has been eligible for the draft for the past few years with several clubs showing interest. Came back from a recent injury to kick 11 goals in his past three games
The Fremantle Dockers have re-energized their season with their third consecutive victory to sit just outside of the top eight. The Geelong Cats were beaten by the Richmond Tigers last week and were determined to return to their best. However, with a number of players unavailable through injury, the Cats found the pressure on the ball and the run of the Fremantle Dockers too much to handle. With the afternoon temperature nudging 79 °F, the big Cats lacked the fitness and stamina to stay with the young Dockers.
In mid-March, Melbourne law firm Margalit Injury Lawyers filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of over 60 former players, seeking compensation for the concussions they suffered during their careers and the resultant post-concussion issues they have suffered since. The players include former premiership player Max Rooke (Geelong), Shaun Smith (Melbourne), Liam Picken (Western Bulldogs) and Darren Jarman (Adelaide and Hawthorn). The widow of the late Shane Tuck has also signed on in the suit. Smith previously won a million dollar plus insurance payout due the concussions he suffered.
Outside the court, the firm's leading lawyer Michel Margalit said the firm was seeking about AUD$ 2 million (US$1.35 million) plus medical expenses per player. Margalit said it could cost the AFL close to 1 billion $AUD (US$666 million).She said it was not about "bringing down the AFL", but getting the compensation for the players, Rooke played 135 games for the Cats 2001-2010 and is the lead plaintiff. He, like many of the others sustained permanent and life-altering injuries as a result of concussion-related injuries and because of the AFL’s negligence. Margalit said, “Their careers are finished and years later they find these concussion-related injuries creeping in and affecting their ability to work, their ability to have a happy family life."