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The calm before what promises to be an AFL trade storm

Premierhip Bulldog Luke Dahlhaus is off to Geelong on a four-year deal, while Tiger Reece Conca is heading back to his native WA to join Fremantle

The calm before what promises to be an AFL trade storm

Ronny Lerner    

It’s presently the calm before the storm as the countdown to the AFL’s annual trade period nears its end.

Yes, it’s that time of the year again when the game’s frenzied meat market goes into hyperdrive and with over 60 players already being linked to other clubs, the 2018 edition promising to be a record-breaker.

It all kicks off at 10am on Monday, although some would argue it’s already been going for months with conversations between clubs, prospective recruits and their managers taking place behind the scenes for quite some time.

The action officially began on Friday with the free agency period having commenced.

Richmond defender Reece Conca was the first cab off the rank as he joined Fremantle on a three-year deal as an unrestricted free agent and Bulldogs premiership hero Luke Dahlhaus followed suit a couple of hours later, joining Geelong on a four-year deal.

The Tigers joined the fray later in the afternoon as they officially made their bid for Gold Coast co-captain Tom Lynch – a deal reportedly worth $6.3 million over seven years.

As Lynch is a restricted free agent, the Suns have the option of matching the offer and retaining the 2016 All-Australian’s services. They have until Monday afternoon to make up their minds.

With the game seemingly shifting back towards the traditional set up of two key targets in attack, as evidenced by West Coast’s premiership, the addition of Lynch up forward to help out Jack Riewoldt should ensure the Tigers stay right in premiership mode next season.

The recruitment of Dahlhaus is a logical choice by the Cats given their lack of frontal pressure, and that an inability to keep the ball locked inside their forward 50 is one of their biggest weaknesses.

Dahlhaus admitted himself on Friday that his form hadn’t been up to the standards that he would have liked in the past couple of years, but if he can recapture the kind of form he displayed in the years leading up to, and including, the Dogs’ premiership season, he will prove to be a valuable acquisition.

Conca is a solid pick-up by the Dockers. After hamstring and foot injuries restricted the defender to 15 games in the previous three seasons, the WA native returned to form in 2018, enjoying one of his best seasons and proving to be a mainstay in the Tigers’ team. whose bid for back-to-back flags stunningly ground to a halt at the preliminary final stage against Collingwood.

Geelong star Tim Kelly sent shockwaves through Kardinia Park on Friday when he requested a trade to West Coast just hours after finishing equal second in the Cats’ best-and-fairest award.

Kelly was a revelation this season after being plucked from the WAFL at the age of 23 with pick 24 in last year’s draft to become one of the game’s most damaging midfielders.

He is homesick and wants to return to Perth, but the Cats have made it clear that they won’t give him up without a fight, stating in a media release that he remains under contract and that “it is highly likely he will remain with the club”.

Other big names to watch out for this trade period are Dylan Shiel, Andrew Gaff, Lachie Neale, Dan Hannebery, Chad Wingard, Scott Lycett, Jesse Hogan, Rory Lobb, Jared Polec, Steven May and Mitch McGovern.

This year’s trade period has a staggered ending, with player exchanges finishing next Wednesday night and pick exchanges finishing almost a month later on November 16.

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