Geelong coach Chris Scott would love to see AFL players replicate Cooper Cronk and announce their exits in advance — he just doesn’t think it’ll happen anytime soon.
The star NRL playmaker’s public declaration that he will leave Melbourne at the end of the year was in stark contrast to the cloak-and-dagger tactics that often feature during AFL player movement negotiations.
Geelong benefited from the biggest AFL trade in recent history when they secured Adelaide superstar Patrick Dangerfield’s services at the end of 2015.
The long-speculated move came as no surprise to anyone within the industry but — as is standard protocol within the AFL — Dangerfield did not make his intentions clear until the eve of the annual trade period.
The Cats have also been informally linked to Gold Coast star Gary Ablett, who is keen to return to Geelong for family reasons.
Under the AFL’s free agency rules, clubs are permitted to meet with contracted players but cannot make them formal offers outside of the trade period.
Cooper Cronk announced his intention to depart the Storm midway through the NRL season. (AAP: Julian Smith)
Geelong coach Scott is in favour of greater transparency but says he can understand why players are reluctant to broadcast their trade wishes.
“I’d like to think that we’re mature enough as an industry to accept that players probably make that decision at some point during the year, and they just choose to keep it private,” Scott said.
“But I can completely understand that clubs need to think long-term. If you know a player’s not going to be with you in subsequent years, that might affect your selection process.
“Obviously it’s complicated. If you’re at the top of the ladder, then you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face (by) not playing the player. But if you don’t see any prospects of finals for that year, it probably doesn’t make much sense to play that guy at the expense of younger players.”
Patrick Dangerfield (R) didn’t make his intentions to move to Geelong clear until right before the trade period. (AAP: Ben Macmahon)
Retired midfielder Nick Dal Santo last week claimed he had been effectively warned against seeking a trade during his formative years at St Kilda.
“I have been in a situation where I wasn’t out of contract but I was considering my options,” he told Fox Footy.
“At no stage did that mean I was leaving but I was also subtly told that if I consider leaving, that I’ll be having a good think about it while playing seconds for the remainder of the football season.”