GWS could face a “battle at hand” to retain a talented youngster who is reportedly eager to return to Victoria.
Plus Richmond coach Damien Hardwick begs his club to sign Liam Baker and “pay the man” as WA clubs circle.
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YOUNG GIANT MAY BE HOME Bound
The “warning signs” are there for GWS when it comes to young Tanner Bruhn’s future.
Bruhn remains the only top 15 pick of the 2020 draw not to be signed after this season, and reports are now emerging that he would like to return to Victoria.
According to reports, Bruhn is “considering a return to Victoria”.
“It’s not something that’s based on opportunity for him,” Callum Twomey of afl.com.au said of SEN.
“He’s had a two-year contract with the Giants for a while, but it hasn’t been signed yet.”
Garry Lyon described Bruhn as a “talented young lad”, despite having only played 24 games so far.
“They have great expectations of him,” he said on SEN.
Bruhn was picked 12 in the 2002 Draft, ahead of Fremantle’s Heath Chapman, Port’s Lachie Jones and Collingwood’s Oliver Henry.
Twomey said GWS is “very excited” to keep the 20-year-old Geelong Falcons product after this season, but admits there are “warning signs”.
“GWS really loves this kid,” said SEN’s Tim Watson.
“Any club that tries to snatch him out there will have a fight on their hands.”
Bruhn has played 11 games this season, including the last five under new coach Mark McVeigh.
PROFESSION OF THE COACH TO PAY THE MAN
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has praised Tiger Liam Baker being out of contract, urging the club to “pay the man”.
Baker has been linked with WA clubs, most notably West Coast, in recent weeks after a best season in 2022.
The West Aussie has yet to comment on his future, but Hardwick is confident Baker will want to stay at Tigerland into 2023 and beyond.
“We love him, our fans love him,” Hardwick said on Thursday.
“He’s such an important player, both on and off the pitch. He’s a superstar.
“He’s a man we passed on as a rookie, he was overlooked in a few checkers but was just an excellent player.
“He’s one of those guys — there aren’t many — as soon as you see Liam, you start smiling.”
Hardwick said Baker’s ability to fight back after being overlooked in multiple checkers before the Tigers drafted him in the 2018 Rookie Draft was a credit to the 24-year-old’s character.
“It’s a tribute to Liam and the tenacity this man has,” he said.
“I’m going to be very honest, if players of that size came in, I would say to our boys, ‘Too small’. But I’ve been proven wrong.
“If they can play the game, they can play the game.
“Liam is a great example and a great inspiration for those who are a little under the AFL footy.”
Baker now has 78 AFL games to his name for Richmond.
CAN RUCKS PLAY A BIG TRADING ROLE AGAIN?
At the end of 2021, a remarkable five rucks changed clubs for the new season – and there are reports that position could be a hot item again this off-season.
Tom Campbell (North Melbourne to St Kilda), Darcy Fort (Geelong to Brisbane), Peter Ladhams (Port Adelaide to Sydney), Jon Ceglar (Hawthorn to Geelong) and Max Lynch (Collingwood to Hawthorn) all found new homes for 2022.
With Luke Jackson’s prized signature yet to be won by Melbourne or any of the WA clubs waiting in the wings, the young Demon’s decision could have a ripple effect on who goes where this trading period.
Lloyd Meek could be the man to give way if Jackson chooses Fremantle as Sean Darcy’s partner. Meek has one year left on his current contract. Across town, Eagle Bailey Williams will get out of contract at the end of the season when Jackson decides West Coast is his best option.
Fellow West Coast ruck Callum Jamieson is another unsigned after 2022, along with SSP signing Luke Strnadica.
Sam Hayes struggles to get playing time at the Power, with forward Charlie Dixon as the preferred backup option. The emergence of young Brynn Teakle is also something for Port Adelaide to weigh up as he has only played one game after being picked up in the Mid-Season Draft.
GWS duo Matt Flynn and Kieran Briggs are also reportedly attracting interest as they are behind Braydon Preuss in the Giants pecking order.
Bomber Andrew Phillips will expire at the end of this season, as will Cat Shannon Neale who is 203cm.
There are still plenty of veteran rucks to determine their future beyond 2022, including Nic Naitanui from the West Coast, Todd Goldstein from North, Sydney duo Callum Sinclair and Sam Reid, Saint Paddy Ryder and Mason Cox from Collingwood.
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