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Players have been added or dropped from five AFL clubs in recent weeks for a wide range of reasons. 

North Melbourne has terminated Tarryn Thomas. Thomas, aged 23, was recently banned from playing for 18 weeks after another incident of inappropriate behavior. He has faced charges of domestic violence and other offenses against several women. The club, after numerous interventions and support structures to help him, have run out of patience.

A statement released by the club said in part, "The club has provided Tarryn with significant time, resources and support but we've now arrived at a point where the individual's needs don't match those of the club. We know Tarryn needs help - for himself and for the women in his life - but it's clear the path we've taken over the past 12 months hasn't had the desired impact ... we have made the decision to end Tarryn's time at North Melbourne. This decision doesn't come lightly or easily ... we acknowledge that he has faced complex and challenging circumstances over his life. We hope Tarryn will find the support that is right for him and that he does the work required to be the best version of himself."

Thomas was the subject of allegations of inappropriate behavior by a female victim in January this year, new claims that were unrelated to the ones which plagued his 2023 season. He had been training away from teammates and Arden Street since the new allegations emerged. In 2023, he also faced charges of using internet or phone services to harass and individual but escaped a criminal conviction. Thomas, who was out of contract at the end of this season, will be ineligible to play for any other AFL club. drafted in 2018, Thomas played 69 games for the Kangaroos.

Melbourne midfielder Angus Brayshaw has been forced to retire due to concussion issues. Brayshaw, 28 years old, has had a history of concussion throughout his career, the most recent in the 2023 Qualifying Final against Collingwood. His brother Hamish suggested last year that Angus needed to decide about his future in the sport. Brayshaw underwent brain scans and consulted specialists over the summer in an effort to continue his career. However, a "highly specialized scan" recently revealed microscopic changes to Brayshaw's brain that had developed since his last concussion. That revelation has forced his hand. He was clearly disappointed by the fact he has to retire, "I am devastated that I can no longer play ... but I respect the verdict of the medical professionals, and the importance of putting my health before my career. I am really proud of what I have achieved over the past decade. I have been able to live out my childhood dream and while it's been cut short, I am forever grateful to everyone who has been involved. I want to especially thank my teammates, my coaches and the staff at the Melbourne Football Club, for all they have done for me over the years. I also want to thank my family and my partner Danielle for their endless support. To every member and fan, thank you for your incredible support over the journey. Concussion is a massive issue facing our game. I hope from this, a terrible result for me personally, can come some positive outcomes for the future of player safety."

The Demons hope Brayshaw will stay in the AFL program in new ways following his retirement. Club CEO Gary Pert said, "Today is a tough day for Angus and everyone involved given his love for the club and the game and how much he means to our people ... our total focus is going into supporting Angus, his fiancé Danielle and the broader Brayshaw family after this devasting news. From the day Angus arrived ... he has had a huge effect. He was a superstar player that was instrumental in our 2021 premiership success. He has been a respected, influential leader of the player group, while at the same time being a much-loved personality who brought laughter and fun to his teammates and the staff every day ... we will talk to Angus to explore keeping him involved in the program in whatever role is appropriate ...". Brayshaw was drafted in 2014 and played 167 games for the Demons. He missed half of the 2016 season and most of 2017 due to concussion symptoms and has worn a helmet ever since.

The Hawks have signed defender Ethan Philips from the VFL as a rookie under the SSP. Phillips, aged 24, is 196 cm (6'4") has been playing with Hawthorn's VFL side Box Hill. The Hawks see him as a replacement for defender James Blanck who has been ruled out of the season due to an ACL injury and is on the long-term injury list.

Phillips previously starred for Port Melbourne in the VFL for the past few seasons. In 2022, he was named in the VFL team of the year and won the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal as the competition’s best young talent. Hawthorn National List and Recruiting Manager Mark McKenzie said Phillips’ addition was a welcome one for the Hawks' defensive unit, saying in part, "Having showcased his trade against AFL-listed forwards in the VFL, we believe Ethan is more than ready to take this next step, 'Deemed the VFL's best intercept defender in 2022', Ethan has a remarkable ability to read the game and demonstrates a strong commitment to the one-on-one contest... ".

Richmond has elevated powerful VFL utility Mykelti Lefau to its AFL list as part of the AFL's preseason special selection period (SSP). Lefau 195 cm (6'4") is originally from New Zealand and has been training with the Tigers since November. He impressed the club with his time in the VFL for the past two seasons. Lefau has the athleticism to play all over the ground but has been mostly used as a power forward this preseason, proving a difficult match-up for opponents with his speed, agility, and brute strength. Lefau, 26 years old, moved to Melbourne in 2012 and was with the Melbourne Storm (NRL) development squad. He learned Australian football at school and announced himself as a serious talent with a 25 goal year in the Under-19 level (St Kilda City) in 2016. He signed with VFL side Casey Scorpions in 2017 and was a member of their Grand Final side in 2018. The 2020 pandemic stalled his career, but the Tigers have come calling in 2021.

North Melbourne has finalized its AFL list, signing forward Tyler Sellers also in the SSP. Sellers, 21 years old, is 193 cm (6'3") and played for North's VFL side in 2023. He was a key forward, kicking 30 goals in 16 games. His strong outings saw him finish runner-up in the best and fairest count for the VFL club. He gelled well with Nick Larkey and Cam Zurhar, kicking three goals in a recent intraclub match.

Collingwood has signed former Australian cricketer, Wil Parker, as a Category B rookie. Parker played for the Eastern Ranges in the Coates League in 2019 and was eligible for the draft in 2020 but decided to play cricket instead. Parker, 21, has now returned to football. He will be integrated gradually into full training over the next several months and the club is excited to have him.

Source: Stacey Oates, North Melbourne Media Release, Natalee Kerr, Hawthorn Media Release, Nicki Malady, Richmond Media Release,, Alanna Mullan, Collingwood Media Release

Article last changed on Monday, July 15, 2024 - 8:27 AM EDT

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