Esava Ratugolea has reportedly decided on his club of choice, telling the Cats he wants to be traded to Port Adelaide – 12 months after he was denied the same move.
7NEWS’ Mitch Cleary broke the news on social media on Wednesday afternoon after months of speculation surrounding the big Cat’s future.
Ratugolea has had limited opportunity at the Cats as a forward, and wanted to be traded to the Power at the end of last season.
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But a deal couldn’t be reached as the Power locked in on Jason Horne-Francis and Willie Rioli, while Ratugolea was forced to reinvent himself as a defender to get senior selection this season.
“The sequence he got at the start of this year is the best footy he played as a settled defender,” AFL 360 host Gerard Whateley said.
“He got a great run at it but couldn’t hold his spot when it mattered most.”
Former Cat Josh Jenkins described Ratugolea’s call to nominate the Power as “surprising”, while SEN’s Andy Maher wondered if Hawthorn’s reported interest in Ben McKay swayed the Cat’s thinking.
“I wonder if the Ratugolea people have heard the same thing about Ben McKay (being Hawthorn’s number one target) and they’re thinking, ‘we don’t want to be someone’s back up plan if they don’t get McKay’,” he said.
“(Port) I imagine were saying to their blokes, go and tell Ratugolea that he’s the only one we want.”
It’s reported Port Adelaide are willing to offer a five-year deal, but given their interest in Brodie Grundy – who the club has already met with in Melbourne last week – questions are being asked of how the Power get the deal done.
“Port Adelaide’s problem is they have no draft capital as matters stand this year,” Whateley said on 360.
“Geelong will start with a first round pick.”
AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson didn’t believe Ratugolea was worth that first-round deal.
“Is he worth a first round pick? I don’t think he is. He’s not a first rounder,” he said.
“The money that was suggested earlier this week – $7 million or $5 million over seven years is the greatest load of nonsense.
“He’s a solid player.
“He lost his spot… that (departure) was on the cards. He was going to leave.”
Geelong coach Chris Scott had said earlier this year the club would play hardball for Ratugolea.
“As to how hard we fight for him – about as hard as last year. He’s not going anywhere,” Scott told reporters back in June.
“If I were Esava, I would take it as a compliment that other teams are interested and as a coach I certainly do.
“We’ve got players that other teams want.”
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SEN SA’s Kym Dillon believes Port’s Xavier Duursma could be the man involved in a Ratugolea deal.
“Duursma is out of contract – you have to give something to get something,” he said on Wednesday.
“I would strongly suggest Xavier Duursma would be going to Geelong to replace the retired Isaac Smith on the wing.”
Port Adelaide don’t have a first-round selection this trade period due to the Horne-Francis deal last year, with their first draft pick currently sitting at 37.
That alone could prove a stumbling block to a deal for Grundy, who has fallen out-of-favour quickly in his first year as a Demon sitting behind Max Gawn in the ruck stakes.
Fellow SA journalist Michelangelo Rucci suggested Scott Lycett could be another figure at play in a deal for Ratugolea, given the Cats are looking to shore up their ruck stocks.
“I would suggest he’d be in the deal as well,” Rucci said of Lycett.
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WHAT’S NEXT FOR OUT-OF-FAVOUR DOCKER?
Twelve months ago, Will Brodie was coming off a career-best debut season at Fremantle.
Described as arguably the steal of the 2021 trade period after arriving from the Gold Coast, Brodie headed into 2023 as a sure starter.
But he managed just five games for the Dockers – instead spending the season biding his time in the WAFL.
SEN WA’s Scott Cummings and Tim Gossage questioned whether a new club – like West Coast – could help reinvigorate Brodie’s career.
“He couldn’t get a game at the back end of the season,” Gossage said.
“What does Fremantle do with Will Brodie?
“He doesn’t want to play at Peel Thunder. He’s too good to be playing at Peel Thunder. He’s 25 years of age.
“I think he’d get a game at most clubs … but he ain’t gonna get a game at Fremantle in that midfield.
“Hayden Young is now a midfielder. (The wing) is not his game – he’s an inside mid.
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“I reckon they’re in a massive pickle (Fremantle with Brodie).
“I don’t think he’d want to stay and play WAFL. He’s only 25.
“I don’t know what his contract is worth … but bottom line is he’s got three years to run on his contract. He hasn’t played since Round 7.
“If a club came knocking, I have absolutely no doubt if a deal could be struck then he would find himself at another club.”
Former Eagle Cummings agreed Brodie was being wasted at WAFL level, but questioned whether West Coast would be the right fit given the rivalry between the two WA teams.
“He’s a very, very good player, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
“If Brayshaw or Serong gets injured, Will Brodie can step in and can hold him own in an AFL team.
“Will Brodie is a good enough player to get a run elsewhere.
“If you’re happy to be there cruising (at WAFL level) … having the security of a contract on an AFL list, that’s not who you want on your AFL list. You need someone hungry, desperate, who wants to play. I don’t think Will Brodie is a cruiser. The issue is then will Fremantle be prepared to trade him?”
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Describing a trade as the “best thing” for Brodie, Cummings said WA footy politics could dictate a deal.
“The problem there is that Fremantle and West Coast have a history of not playing nicely with each other,” he said.
“And so Fremantle will put a price on his head for West Coast that will be higher than the price on his head for a team in the east.”
THE NORTH VETERAN ASSESSING HIS OPTIONS
Todd Goldstein is set to play on in 2024, but his 315-game career at North Melbourne could be all over.
With the Kangaroos committed to a rebuild, the 35-year-old Goldstein doesn’t fit the age bracket.
AFL.com.au’s Cal Twomey reported there was interest in Goldstein coming from Essendon.
Meanwhile AFL Daily’s Damien Barrett said he could see clubs like Port Adelaide and Sydney use the veteran short-term.
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“I raise that because he’s 35, going to be 36 during the 2024 season and he’ll be on an AFL list next year,” he said.
“In my eyes, it (Goldstein) won’t be at North Melbourne, and it could be one of those two teams I mentioned. But more likely the Sydney Swans if they don’t get Brodie Grundy.
“That would be my early trade type of conversation at this stage of September.”
The Grundy trump card appears to be what is holding clubs back from making an offer to Goldstein.
Grundy has met with Port Adelaide, with Sydney also confirming their interest – but CEO Tom Harley refused to say whether his club had sat face-to-face with the Melbourne ruck.