The Western Bulldogs could be willing to part ways with Lachie Hunter, despite the premiership player still having two years to run on his deal.
Plus a retired Lion could consider an AFL comeback.
Get all the latest player movement news in AFL Trade Whispers!
Watch every match of the AFLW Season LIVE on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
HUNTER, DOGS COULD PART WAYS
The Western Bulldogs are reportedly weighing up whether it’s best for premiership player Lachie Hunter to have a “fresh start” at another club for 2023 and beyond.
Hunter signed a reported $3 million, five-year contract back in 2019, but was restricted to just 10 games in 2022 due to injury, personal health and form.
SEN’s Sam Edmund says Hunter is a “person of interest” this AFL Trade Period.
“He is no certainty to be at the Dogs next year,” Edmund said.
“He’s got two years to run on this contract – it’s a five-year contract he signed in 2019, but there is a chance he could be playing elsewhere next year.
“His recent exit meeting was said to be positive, but at 27 years of age I suppose he and they are just weighing up whether a fresh start might be better for both.”
Hunter arrived at the Dogs in 2012 as a father-son pick and debuted months later in 2013 against Richmond.
It took until 2016 for Hunter to cement his spot in the Bulldogs’ best 22 and by 2018, he was named the club’s best and fairest.
But it quickly unravelled for Hunter in a Covid-affected 2020 after he voluntarily relinquished the club’s vice-captaincy when caught drink driving.
He stepped away from the game for personal reasons, and did so again in 2022.
“He’s had a challenging last couple of years at the Whitten Oval for a variety of reasons,” Edmund said.
“Whether (the Dogs) act upon (any trade interest), they might not but this is one we might need to key an eye on.”
The Dogs already have a busy trade period ahead with Josh Dunkley informing the club he wants to be traded to Brisbane.
A deal is still trying to be reached for contracted Docker Rory Lobb, despite Fremantle stating they won’t be putting the big forward up for trade. Josh Schache and Zaine Cordy are also reportedly “assessing their options” as well.
ROBINSON MAY NOT BE DONE
Retired Lion Mitch Robinson says his AFL career may not be over as he confirmed his manager is speaking to “a few” clubs in a bid to play on in 2023.
Robinson was left frustrated when Brisbane coach Chris Fagan revealed the veteran would not be receiving a new deal at the Lions.
In an emotional social media post after the club’s preliminary final loss to the Cats, Robinson delivered a parting shot.
“Devastated Fages wouldn’t allow me to announce this in person to the supporters and my teammates, but I guess that’s footy,” he wrote.
“It’s been an absolute privilege pulling on the Fitzroy and Lions jumper!”
Speaking on AFL Trade Radio on Monday, Robinson said he had options moving forward when asked if he could play on.
“Yeah I think so – my mind and my body, my body feels probably as good as I’ve ever felt,” he said.
“I had a few niggles early on in the year but what got that all settled – I was playing some good footy in the seniors and in the VFL especially. I think I was averaging low 30 touches and a lot of clearances and feeling like I was impacting at that level.
“The manager’s doing some work behind the scenes, he’s talking to a few clubs that have been approaching him.
“I’d be in discussions with someone if it made sense for me and my family. I’ve got three kids now, and potentially going to move back to Melbourne.
“But if someone approached me and they said: ‘This is what could happen’, I think I’ve got a good leadership mentality and I could really help and lift in a certain way next year. If it happens, it happens.
“It’s all up to if it makes sense for me and my family.”
Robinson said he would remain in the game, regardless of whether he made it back onto a senior list.
“I got my sports journalism degree a few years ago … if I did jump into the media, I’d be more a player’s advocate,” he said.
“I think it’s time for someone to pop up and speak for them. Media definitely.
“I want to be a player agent – ever since I got cut from the Blues, I made sure I got my full licence for that, got my sports journalist degree, been doing small business courses along the way. What happens next year, if it’s not footy, I’ll definitely be involved somehow that’s for sure.”
Robinson would not need to seek a trade to land at a new club in 2023.
He played 100 games for Carlton before being given a second chance at the Lions. For Brisbane, Robinson played 147 games over eight seasons, but was limited to just 15 games in 2022.
JJ REJECTS MOVE NORTH
Jason Johannisen has turned down a reported three-year deal from the Gold Coast Suns to remain with the Western Bulldogs until at least the end of 2024.
Despite losing Josh Dunkley north to the Lions, the Dogs managed to hang on to Johannisen with a new two-year deal.
Johannisen was an unrestricted free agent heading into the 2022 Trade Period, meaning he could have opted for a move to the Suns without the Dogs matching the deal.
“The Western Bulldogs is a really special place to me and I couldn’t be happier to get the chance to continue playing football here for the next few years,” Johannisen said.
“It’s a really positive time to be a part of this team, our list is exciting as we continue to strive for sustained success.
“I’ve got lifelong friends here, I love pulling on the red, white and blue each week in front of our amazing supporters and fans.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the club for having the faith in me throughout my career and into the future.”
Johannisen was one of his club’s best in the 2016 grand final victory, with 33 disposals. But he struggled against the Demons in the 2021 decider, racking up just 12 touches and a goal.
Injury ensured Johannisen registered just eight games in 2022.