A Richmond star has backed his club to keep “possible captain” Jack Graham as rivals circle.
Plus, an axed Docker gets on the front foot in search of a new club.
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TIGERS STAR BACKS TEAMMATE TO STAY
Richmond star Jack Riewoldt says the club needs to hang on to teammate Jack Graham, despite rumours rivals are circling.
With GWS duo Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto trying to land at Tigerland for 2023 and beyond, there’s fears the additions could force a selection squeeze.
And one player who could get caught up is Graham.
Already with the likes of Dustin Martin, Shai Bolton and Dion Prestia playing mid-forward and Trent Cotchin going on for another season, the new Giants duo could cause some selection headaches.
But Riewoldt believes there’s enough room for Graham to stay – and he hopes he does as he sees the 24-year-old as a potential future captain.
“I firmly believe that Jack Graham is going to be a very good player for us going forward,” Riewoldt told SEN Tassie.
“Fridge, that’s his nickname, he can play anywhere. It’s just finding the right balance of those inside mids.
“I would be absolutely flat (if he left).
“He is a great person, and a player we firmly believe could be a good leader – possible captain material.”
Graham was recruited by the Tigers from Tasmania and was already a two-time premiership player by the age of 22.
When going through the draft process, Graham was once likened to a young Luke Hodge and infamously played in a grand final in just his fifth AFL game after playing a starring role for Richmond late in his 2017 debut season.
Earlier this week, Sam Edmund reported Graham was “gettable” by rivals if an attractive offer was presented.
Graham still has one more year to run on his Richmond deal.
AXED DOCKER READY TO PLAY ON
Forgotten Fremantle midfielder Connor Blakely says he is willing to move to anywhere in Australia in a bid to keep his AFL dream alive.
Blakely was one of two players delisted by the Dockers this week – alongside Joel Western – after spending the 2022 season on the rookie list without playing a game.
Speaking to SEN after his time at Freo ended, Blakely said remained hopeful one of the other 17 AFL clubs would show some interest.
“I still am a young man – I’m only 26 so I’m hoping that my career isn’t over yet from an AFL point of view, that’s for sure,” he said.
“Definitely happy to relocate and go anywhere around Australia.
“My managers are working hard, both Paul Connors and Robbie D’Orazio, they’re talking to basically every club to see if I can fit on their list somewhere.
“The good thing about it is that I’m a delisted free agent now so basically I don’t have to get traded, I can just be added on the back end of a list whenever they see fit.
“I’m actually going over to Melbourne for the grand final … Robbie’s in the pipeline of organising a couple of meetings with a couple of clubs so hopefully seeing them in person will help my case.
“At the same time, is Plan A if going onto another list doesn’t work out, I’ve got Plan B and Plan C and things like that in place so I’m not putting all of my eggs in the one basket.
“I’m hoping that I can still continue on.”
Blakely was almost traded by the Dockers back in 2020, but ultimately recommitted to the club to see out his contract to the end of 2022.
The 26-year-old described the last few years at the Dockers as “difficult” as he fell out-of-favour under coach Justin Longmuir and didn’t feature at senior level this season – named as an emergency for just three matches.
“The last three years have been definitely a challenge,” he said.
“I would have loved to have more opportunity than I did.
“Everyone’s got to back themselves in – if you don’t back yourself in, no one else will. I definitely still have the opinion that I’m good enough to play AFL, hence why I’m pretty keen to see what else is out there.”
Blakely said he’d improved his fitness and worked closely with Rob Wiley on his kicking in recent times to ensure he was best placed to stay in the AFL system.
Blakely even flagged a possible move to the Gold Coast to try and win a contract in Queensland, given friends Sam Collins and Lachie Weller are on their senior list.
Blakely played 78 games for Fremantle in seven seasons after being drafted with pick 34 in 2014.
But he said he knew his time at the club was numbered when younger players were chosen ahead of him in recent times.
“It was definitely on the horizon (being delisted), especially after the start of the year when I was playing some decent footy in the WAFL and unfortunately in the derby and games like that early on, they decided to blood like a Neil Erasmus and a few other lads ahead of me like Nathan O’Driscoll and guys like that,” Blakely said.
“So I sort of thought from that point, without forecasting exactly that my time was done, that I thought it was going to be an uphill battle from there to play.”