A Richmond star has backed his club to keep “potential captain” Jack Graham as rivals.
Plus, a disabled Docker goes to the forefront looking for a new club.
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TIGERS STAR SUPPORTS TEAMMAT TO STAY
Richmond star Jack Riewoldt says the club must hold on to teammate Jack Graham, despite rumors of rivals circulating.
As GWS duo Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto aim to land at Tigerland for 2023 and beyond, there are fears the additions could force a selection restriction.
And one player who could be overtaken is Graham.
With players like Dustin Martin, Shai Bolton and Dion Prestia already playing mid-forward and Trent Cotchin going through another season, the new Giants duo could be causing some selection headaches.
But Riewoldt believes there is plenty of 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 will be a very good player for us in the future,” Riewoldt told SEN Tassie.
‘Fridge, that’s his nickname, he can play anywhere. It’s just finding the right balance between those mids.
“I would be absolutely flat (if he left).
“He’s a great person and a player who we firmly believe could be a good leader, possibly captain’s material.”
Graham was recruited by the South Australian Tigers and by the age of 22 was already a two-time premiership player.
Going through the drafting process, Graham was once compared to a young Luke Hodge and infamously starred in a grand final in just his fifth AFL game after starring for Richmond late in his 2017 debut season.
Earlier this week, Sam Edmund reported that Graham was “available” from rivals if an attractive offer was made.
Graham has one year left on his Richmond deal.
AXED DOCKER READY TO PLAY
Forgotten Fremantle midfielder Connor Blakely says he is willing to move to anywhere in Australia to keep his AFL dream alive.
Blakely was one of two players dropped 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 he remained hopeful that one of the other 17 AFL clubs would show some interest.
“I’m still a young man – I’m only 26, so I hope my career isn’t over from an AFL point of view, that’s for sure,” he said.
“Absolutely happy to be moving and going anywhere in Australia.
“My managers work hard, both Paul Connors and Robbie D’Orazio, they talk to pretty much every club to see if I can fit somewhere on their list.
“The good thing about it is that I am now a delisted free agent, so basically I don’t need to be traded, I can just be added to the back of a list when they see fit.
“I’m actually going to Melbourne for the grand final… Robbie is about to set up a few meetings with a few clubs so hopefully seeing them in person will help.
“At the same time, plan A is if I can’t get to another list, I have plan B and plan C and things like that, so I don’t put all my eggs in one basket.
“I hope I can continue.”
Blakely was nearly traded by the Dockers in 2020, but eventually promised the club again to extend his contract until the end of 2022.
The 26-year-old described recent years with the Dockers as “difficult” as he fell out of favor under coach Justin Longmuir and failed to play at the highest level this season – listed as an emergency for just three games.
“The past three years have certainly been challenging,” he says.
“I would have liked to have had more chances than I had.
“Everyone needs to back off – if you don’t support yourself, no one else will. I definitely still feel that I’m good enough to play AFL, so I’m quite curious to see what else is out there. ”
Blakely said he had improved his fitness and had recently worked closely with Rob Wiley on his kicks to ensure he was best placed to remain in the AFL system.
Blakely even signaled a possible move to the Gold Coast to try and win a contract in Queensland, as 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 as younger players were chosen for him lately.
“It was definitely on the horizon (removed from the list) especially after the start of the year when I played some decent footy in the WAFL and unfortunately early on in the derby and such matches they decided to bleed like a Neil Erasmus and a few other guys ahead of me, like Nathan O’Driscoll and guys like that,” Blakely said.
“So I thought from that point on, without predicting exactly when my time was up, I thought it was going to be a tough battle to play from there.”