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The Trades – Day 3: Some food for Tiger thought

Jason Castagna (right) has helped make a big difference to Richmond. Would the Tigers consider trading him to get better still? Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Trades – Day 3: Some food for Tiger thought

Benjamin Savona    

Trade period is starting to feel a lot like Groundhog Day. On day three, football fans and media alike were scrambling for any crumbs of news, with no further paperwork lodged.

Perhaps the most significant moment came with Geelong list manager Stephen Wells telling AFL Trade Radio that the Cats were “unlikely to be able to do a deal for Jack Watts to be able to come to Geelong”.

That leaves Port Adelaide in the box seat for the Melbourne utility’s services, the relationship between player and his current club seeming irretrievable and Watts’ departure a given.

Wells, meanwhile, continued to rule out Mitch Duncan, Nakia Cockatoo and Jake Kolodjashnij as potential parts of the impending Gary Ablett deal, leaving Darcy Lang as the Cat most likely.

Steven Motlop is also reportedly edging closer to a decision that would see him playing for Port Adelaide next year, as both South Australian teams present their case to the gifted but erratic midfielder.

In other news, Brisbane has decided not to match Port Adelaide’s offer for restricted free agent Tom Rockliff, making him officially a Power player. Rockliff is the second player to formally switch clubs since last Friday, following Jackson Trengove’s move to the Western Bulldogs.

But there’s still plenty of speculation going on, and to that end, even the newly-crowned premier could perhaps consider a trade involving one of its now famous flag-winning 22.

Richmond has built a team that values hard work and pressure acts more than it does natural talent in many instances. And in years to come, observers of the game will look back and reference the small, pressure-filled forward line that suffocated opposition defences and locked the ball inside 50.

The Tigers’ “mosquito fleet” played a huge role in the flag triumph, Dan Butler, Jason Castagna and Daniel Rioli all perhaps unlikely deliverers of premiership glory.

You never want to split up premiership teammates, especially not those who are so young and have an opportunity to terrify the AFL for the next five years. But would it really be such a crazy idea?

One of the staples of the 2017 Richmond unit has been depth, a soldier out, soldier in mentality that has the whole group buying in. And two of the most exciting of the players who shone in the VFL this year were Shai Bolton and Tyson Stengle, both small, pressure forwards.

Richmond rates Bolton highly and it would be a shock if he isn’t in the starting 22 after he gets another pre-season under his belt. But at whose expense? Breaking up the band will be difficult, but perhaps doing so might allow Richmond to blood even better talent.

And it’s Castagna, who on Tuesday was elevated to the senior list, who might be the player most susceptible to being shopped around.

With Bolton and Stengle knocking on the door and Castagna’s currency now arguably greater than it might be ever again, it as to be something Richmond would consider if the right buyer approached.

Having played 25 games in a premiership season and terrorising opposition players with ferocious pressure on the ball carrier, a player of his prowess would surely spark plenty of interest from rival clubs.

There are reports Carlton harbours interest in Castagna, and with the Blues’ youth and still-to-be-settled forward line, he would be an interesting acquisition.

Another club on the record as searching for pressure forward of centre is Brisbane, which has struggled to lock the ball inside their forward arc.

With Josh Schache seeking a trade back to Victoria, Castagna might be a return that would interest the Lions’ list managers, coupled with a draft pick.

The Tigers have already publically ruled themselves out of the race for the young forward, but one can’t help but feel that this story has a little more unfolding to do over the next two weeks.

Richmond hopes Bolton will build a tank and rotate through the midfield and forward 50 in coming years and could potentially be a readymade, more athletic replacement for stalwart Shane Edwards.

But if both Bolton and Stengle capitalize on their potential ahead of schedule, Richmond could well be over-stocked on their player type.

What is Castagna worth on the open market? Perhaps no more than a late second-round to early third-round pick, not enough for the Tigers to entertain. But as a sweetener in a deal up north? That might just change.

It’s at least food for thought, even for a club still basking in the glow of a new addition to the trophy cabinet.

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