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Four Free Agents Find New Homes

Brand Tackles Opponent

It is currently the free agency period for the AFL. This period runs until November 22 and allows clubs to pick up delisted free agent players. In late October, soon after they were delisted, Wylie Buzza (Geelong to Port Adelaide), Jack Newnes (St Kilda to Carlton), Kaiden Brand (Hawthorn to Sydney), Sam Gray (Port Adelaide to Sydney), Harley Bennell (Fremantle to Melbourne) signed with new clubs.

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McVeigh Retires and Bennell Surgery

McVeigh Goals in Game 300

Sydney stalwart Jarrad McVeigh has announced he would retire at the end of the season. McVeigh, 34, has played just five games this season due to quad, hamstring, and calf injuries. His last AFL game was Round 12. He was on the comeback trail through the NEAFL but strained a calf. He is still hopeful of a final farewell game in Round 23. McVeigh also thought of playing on in 2020, but the latest setback told him otherwise.

McVeigh was drafted in 2002 and has been a key to the team's recent success of 15 finals series and five Grand Finals. His 324 games is just one shy of former teammate Jude Bolton (323) and he is just one of four Swans to play 300 games, the others being Adam Goodes (372) and Michael O'Loughlin (303). And he will go down as one of the most decorated and influential players in the club's history.

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Two Departures: Richardson and Bennell

Alan Richardson Addresses Club

After their tenth loss for the season against Geelong in Round 17, St Kilda decided to part company with senior coach Alan Richardson. The official announcement was that Richardson himself opted to step down although speculation has it that the decision was mutual after extensive discussions between Richardson, CEO Matt Finnis, and the board of directors.

In making the announcement, Finnis thanked Richardson for his commitment and contribution to the club and praised him for the work he had done under difficult conditions, "Alan brought great integrity, knowledge and experience ... and under his leadership, the foundation for future success has been laid. He inherited his role at a difficult point in the club’s history, developed the young players now beginning to make their mark, took the club to the cusp of two finals appearances, and ... showed great resilience in the face of adversity. Alan’s selflessness and focus on what is right for the playing group and club has always been immense, but it’s perhaps been best demonstrated in the past two days through his decision to step aside ...".

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Vertigo Grounds Crow and Docker News

Curly Hampton

Adelaide midfielder Curly Hampton has been forced to retire due to vertigo. Hampton, 25, also said all the setbacks he has had over the past eight years caused him to lose his passion for playing. When announcing his decision, he went on to say, "The past few weeks have been particularly hard ... At times, it has been difficult to train and play but it has also affected my life away from football ...  I am confident of making a full recovery but I feel it is best to do that away from the pressures of the AFL industry. This is a good opportunity to focus on the other priorities in my life ... ". He suffered ankle and shoulder injuries in 2014 and a foot injury in 2016. 

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Naitanui Out for a Year and Other Injury News

Naitanui with Willie Rioli

The West Coast Eagles have confirmed that Nic Naitanui has a torn the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on his right knee. His left knee was reconstructed in late 2016 and kept Naitanui out of the competition for all of 2017. American specialist Bill Knowles, who assisted Naitanui with his recovery in Philadelphia last July, has suggested that this second reconstruction could require a longer recovery period. It is expected that Naitanui will undergo reconstruction surgery as soon as the initial swelling subsides. He will miss the rest of this year and most of the 2019 season. The twenty-eight year old has played 160 games for West Coast; he will be nearly 30 when he returns to the game.

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AFL Drug Policy Revamped

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

The AFL's illicit drug policy has had its critics over the years, with many believing that players should be "named and shamed" and punished after just one "strike" rather than waiting until a third positive test. Many also believe that AFL clubs should be notified of the player's name after the first positive test.

That has now changed with the League reviewing the existing policy and instituting changes which will see players named publicly, fined and suspended for four matches if they record a second positive test. After a first strike, the player name will still remain anonymous but there will be a $5000 suspended fine. A third strike will incur a 12 match suspension.

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Player Trades

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Mid-October was a busy time for all clubs with the free agency and trade periods commencing. Everything was concluded on the afternoon of October 22.

Under a new rule, the AFL has allowed clubs to trade future draft picks. Each club is allowed to trade just one first round selection and no more than two of these over a four year period. The AFL also created a valuation points system to determine compensation selections for clubs who lose players due to free agency.

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Player Moves Around AFL

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

After the Round 23 game, Gold Coast's Harley Bennell was involved in an undisclosed incident which saw him issued with a "public nuisance" notice.

It was the final straw for the Suns who have announced that he will be traded. Bennell has had a number of off-field issues, not the least of which was the publication of photographs of him apparently indulging in illicit drugs. The pictures were from a 2013 trip but were only published in the newspapers in June this year.

After this latest incident, a series of meetings were held between club officials, coaching staff, the leadership group and Bennell's management. CEO Travis Auld issued a statement confirming the decision to dump Bennell was unanimous.
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Gold Coast Drug Underbelly Exposed

by Lachlan Hellyer reporting for AFANA from Toronto

Photographs of Gold Coast Suns star Harley Bennell allegedly using illicit drugs in a Launceston (Tasmania) hotel room have been leaked to the press. Another Gold Coast Suns player confirmed to the club he was with Bennell on the night, though no photographs of him have been circulated, and his identity is not currently known.
Bennell Runs
This development comes in light of allegations made by disgraced former teammate of Bennell’s, Karmichael Hunt, that as many as 12 Gold Coast Suns footballers joined him for an end of season cocaine binge in 2014. The names of the players implicated by Hunt have not been made public. The images of Bennell, reportedly taken in March 2013, are a stark reminder that the AFL’s fight against illicit drug use is more serious than they may have been prepared to admit. The formative years of the Gold Coast Football Club will be forever tainted by its association with Karmichael Hunt. That is not to say that a Gold Coast player who took cocaine or any illicit substance is not entirely responsible for his actions. We are all just prisoners here of our own device, as the great Don Henley once sang.
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Eagles Deliver Football Lesson to Gold Coast

Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Domain Stadium, Perth

With a twelve goal burst in the third quarter, the West Coast Eagles delivered the highest score in any quarter in the club’s history and put the stranglehold on a one-sided Round 7 game against the Gold Coast Suns at Domain Stadium. The game was played in wet conditions and it wasn’t long before the Eagles put their winning stamp on the game.

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