Nick Robertson of the Lions in action.
Nick Robertson of the Lions in action.

Delisted players worth another chance

THE AFL's delisted free agency period opens Friday with players cut able to sign with new clubs and join them immediately.

And former Cat Wylie Buzza has already been picked up, the forward/ruckman set to join Port Adelaide.

St Kilda's Jack Newnes could also be among the first player to find a new home after the Saints last week agreed to delist the midfielder so he can pursue an opportunity at Carlton.

Last year, Brisbane signed midfielder Jarryd Lyons as a delisted free agent after he was axed by Gold Coast and he's since become one of the key drivers behind the Lions' surge up the ladder.

In recent years, players including Ricky Henderson (Hawthorn), Mitch Robinson (Brisbane Lions) and Tim Membrey (St Kilda) have all found new home via the delisted free agency window.

We look at the players worth another chance.

HARLEY BENNELL

The highly-talented former No.2 draft pick looks set to earn another chance at AFL level after playing just two games in four injury-ravaged seasons with Fremantle. Sydney and Geelong have already met with the former Sun and Docker, while the Herald Sun reported this week Melbourne has joined the list of clubs interested in recruiting him. If he can get on top of the calf and soft-tissue injuries that have plagued him, Bennell has the class and skills to be a matchwinner. Definitely worth the risk on a one-year deal with a games-based trigger for a second season.

 

MITCH BROWN

Brown was surprisingly delisted by Essendon on the eve of the first list lodgement deadline despite kicking 21 goals from 16 games this year. The forward played a key role in helping lead the Bombers' forward line in the absence of Joe Daniher, ranking behind only Jake Stringer and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti for goals kicked. Brown averaged just over a goal a game in his 55 matches for Essendon and, at 29 years old, still has football ahead of him. He plays smaller than his height, at 196cm, with his elite running ability that allows him to get up and down the ground. Would Collingwood have a look at him to help Mason Cox and Brody Mihocek?

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Nick Robertson gets under Dustin Martin’s skin.
Nick Robertson gets under Dustin Martin’s skin.

NICK ROBERTSON

The hard-nosed Lion was unlucky not to be offered a new deal after playing in Brisbane's semi-final loss to GWS. Robertson played 73 games in six years and has filled a variety of roles, including in the midfield as a tagger, and would offer a new club the ability to lock down on the opposition's most dangerous player. He plays his footy on the edge and can get under the skin of opposition players, but he puts his head over the ball and attack it with ferocity.

 

LACHIE HENDERSON

On the lookout for a fourth AFL club after Geelong opted not to offer the swingman a contract for 2020. Henderson played just seven games in 2017 as he battled knee and leg injuries, which opened the door for young guns Jake Kolodjashnij and Jack Henry to cement their spots in the Cats' best 22. It meant Henderson fell out of favour this year, playing just six senior games, but he was part of the losing preliminary final team where he played forward in place of the suspended Tom Hawkins. He'll turn 30 in December, so if he does get another chance it would likely be as a key defender for a team desperate for key-position depth in the finals/premiership frame. Would Melbourne or the Bulldogs, despite trading for Alex Keath, take a look?

Will a fourth club take a punt on Lachie Henderson? Picture: Michael Klein
Will a fourth club take a punt on Lachie Henderson? Picture: Michael Klein

SAM MURRAY

The ex-Magpie's drug ban ends on December 18, meaning he can complete nearly a full pre-season and be available to play Round 1. Murray has been training hard and has engaged a top personal trainer to get him ready to hit the ground running should he earn another chance at AFL level a after testing positive to cocaine on match-day. Murray played nine games for Collingwood and showed glimpses of his talent as a line-breaking half-back who has electric speed and loves to take the game on. His ball use can let him down at times, but with more experience and development in a full-time AFL environment that can be fixed. He's still only 22.

Sam Murray is working hard to earn another chance at AFL level.
Sam Murray is working hard to earn another chance at AFL level.

 

LYNDEN DUNN

Dunn is nearing a full recovery from his second knee reconstruction in as many years and was unlucky not to be given a one-year deal by Collingwood. He reignited his career as a reliable defender at the Magpies in 2017 when he arrived at the club from Melbourne for next to nothing via a trade, and was rarely beaten in one-on-one contests. Dunn will nominate for the national and rookie drafts in the hope of playing again, with Collingwood to consider him as a rookie should no other club pick him up. He will turn 33 in May next year but would offer a club in the premiership window depth and experience in defence.

 

Cult hero Wylie Buzza was axed by the Cats. Picture: Michael Klein
Cult hero Wylie Buzza was axed by the Cats. Picture: Michael Klein

 

WYLIE BUZZA

UPDATE: Buzza is off to Port Adelaide, with Ken hinkley's team swooping on the former Cats cult hero when delisted free agency period opened on Friday. He played six games and showed great promise as a forward-ruck. The 23-year-old fell out of favour last year, however, and played just three games before not featuring at all this year as Esava Ratugolea cemented his spot in Chris Scott's best 22. Buzza has AFL experience and has the body to play senior football, giving Port added back-up for big men Scott Lycett and Peter Ladhams.

 

KAIDEN BRAND

The key defender showed promise at Hawthorn in 2017 when he played a career-high 17 games but wasn't quite able to cement his spot in Alastair Clarkson's team the following year, playing 10 games in 2018 and five this year. At 198cm, the 25-year-old has fallen victim to the Hawks' strong backline talent with James Sicily emerging as one of the premier defenders in the competition alongside James Frawley and captain Ben Stratton. Joel Hamling (Western Bulldogs, now Fremantle) and Tim Membrey (St Kilda) are among key-position players to be taken as delisted free agents and been huge successes at their new clubs and Brand could be worth a second chance. He's athletic for his size.

 

CONNOR MENADUE

The hard-running wingman has never been able to cement his spot in a very strong Richmond side and was linked to Fremantle during the trade period. The Dockers are in need of outside runners after losing both Bradley Hill (to St Kilda) and Ed Langdon (Melbourne) during the trade period. Showed his potential with 26 disposals and three goals in the Tigers' VFL preliminary final win.

 

JACOB TOWNSEND

Townsend burst on to the scene late in the Tigers' premiership run in 2017 as a tough pressure forward who had a knack of kicking goals, but he hasn't been able to recapture that form since. Remarkably, he played just 20 games for Richmond in four seasons. The 26-year-old has been linked to GWS, where he started his career as an inside midfielder, and could help fill a role as the Giants continue to evolve as a more hardened and physical side under coach Leon Cameron.

Connor Menadue’s pace could be an asset to another club. Picture: Michael Klein
Connor Menadue’s pace could be an asset to another club. Picture: Michael Klein

CHRIS MASTEN

The forgotten midfielder at the Eagles who agreed to part ways with the club despite playing 17 games this season, including the elimination and semi-finals. Masten was part of West Coast's premiership team last year but is probably a victim of the club's already strong midfield adding star Tim Kelly during the trade period and has been squeezed out. Masten averaged 16 disposals this season and at 30 is nearing the end of his career but would add experience to a young team or midfield depth to a contender. Has been linked to Gold Coast.

Playing in a flag didn’t save Chris Masten. Picture: Michael Klein
Playing in a flag didn’t save Chris Masten. Picture: Michael Klein

 

CODY HIRST

Hirst was drafted by the Swans in the mid-season draft this year and was unlucky to be delisted just five months later. Will spending half a year in the NEAFL help or hurt his chances of being recruited given the 19-year-old midfielder was dominating in the under-18 NAB League when the Swans swooped? He was played mostly as a forward for Sydney's reserves, kicking nine goals in 12 games.

News Corp Australia

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