Emerging stars to stay Saints

St Kilda has re-signed promising first-year players Ben Paton and Oscar Clavarino.

Clavarino and Paton have added an additional year to their contracts, seeing both players at the club until at least the end of 2020.

General Manager of Football Simon Lethlean said Paton and Clavarino had impressed since joining the club.

“Both boys have really applied themselves since being drafted and their progress has been obvious,” Lethlean said.

“Ben’s debut in Round 21 was a clear indicator of where we think he’s at and it’s a credit to him that he maintained his spot in the senior side.

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The man, the mullet

Few could have predicted Blake Hardwick’s stunning rise up the PCM leader board in 2018, with the young defender polling 127 votes to finish second behind Brownlow Medallist Tom Mitchell.

Some casual football fans may have been surprised to see the 21-year-old feature so high up, but those within the four walls of the Hawthorn Football Club would consider it due recognition after an incredible season.

Tough, courageous, and ever reliable; you just know what you’re going to get from the 44th pick in the 2015 draft.

In just his third year at the club, Hardwick polled in more games than any other teammate, including eventual winner Tom Mitchell. The Hawks qualifying final loss to Richmond was the only game that the defender did not feature in the votes.

After managing a single game in his debut season in 2016, Hardwick enjoyed a break-out campaign last year, playing in 19 of the Hawks 22 games.

A reliable defensive option, Hardwick made a name for himself as a smart decision maker and good ball user, going at 85 per cent disposal efficiency for the 2017 season, clearly the highest of any Hawk who had more than 100 disposals.

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The ‘spray’ that launched Langdon’s year

In accepting the 2018 Players’ Award at the Doig Medal Presentation Dinner at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday night, Ed Langdon revealed the moment that kicked off his breakout year.

Langdon was given a wake up call when facing a firey Ross Lyon during a break in a pre-season game.

The 22-year-old clearly took the senior coach’s words on, and credited Lyon for his year where he collected 25 disposals or more on 12 occasions.

“I’d like to thank the coaches, Ross in particular. I wouldn’t be up here tonight if it wasn’t for you,” Langdon said.

“I sincerely mean that, I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done for me.

“I copped one of the biggest sprays of my life in (the JLT Community Series) from Ross and it clicked me into gear pretty quick.”

As the winner of the Players’ Award, Langdon was acknowledged as the player who best displayed the values set by the group at the start of the season, as voted by the playing group.

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AFL draft 2018: Sam Walsh would ‘love to go No. 1’, confirms recent meeting with Carlton

PICK 1 favourite Sam Walsh has confirmed he and Carlton recruiters recently met, adding he would “love to go No. 1” in November’s national AFL draft.

Walsh plays as a fast-paced midfielder for the Geelong Falcons and is likely to be taken with the first pick in the AFL draft.

The Blues hold the No. 1 draft pick spot and are looking closely at the young star.

Many clubs have taken into account the young talent, however Carlton looks set to snatch Walsh.

“Carlton came down … that was good to meet with them and they presented really well,” Walsh told reporters on Tuesday.

“A few clubs have come down recently as well”.

Walsh has been discussed intensively among many clubs following the end of the AFL season, but has not allowed himself to be affected by the pressure of possibly going No. 1.

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Tom Doedee signs on for two more years

Emerging defender Tom Doedee is the latest player to pledge his future to Adelaide after signing a two-year contract extension.

Doedee, who was already contracted for next season, is now committed to the Club until at least the end of 2021.

The 21-year-old seamlessly slotted into the Crows’ back six after making his AFL debut in Round One this year.

He went on to play 20 games, averaging 18 disposals and 2.2 intercept marks per game to finish second in this year’s AFL Rising Star award.

Doedee said he was elated to extend his time at West Lakes.

“I’m absolutely rapt to sign on for another two years,” Doedee said.

“I love this club, and everyone – my teammates, coaches and staff – have really made me and my family feel a part of the footy club since day one.

“It was a dream come true to play senior footy this year and while I’m pretty happy with my own season, I’d much rather be playing in finals right now.

“I am confident we have the right people in place to bounce back and enjoy team success in 2019.”

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McCartin locked in until 2021

Emerging Swans forward Tom McCartin has committed to Sydney, signing a two-year contract extension.

The 18-year-old, who was the youngest player in the AFL this year, will now remain a Swan until at least the end of 2021.

The Swans recruited the Geelong Falcons product with pick 33 in last year’s draft.

Standing at 192cm and 82kg, McCartin was called up to make his debut in Round 8 against Hawthorn and didn’t look back, playing 15 games for the season.

In week one of the finals, he became the fifth-youngest Swans player in history to play a finals match.

Swans Head of Football Tom Harley said it was exciting to have the tall forward locked in for the next three years.

“It’s great to have Tom commit to Sydney until 2021, 12 months out from his initial contract expiring,” Harley said.

“For an 18-year-old to hold down a key-position post for more than half the season in his debut year is an unbelievable achievement.

“We certainly saw a glimpse of his potential this year and look forward to seeing him develop further over the coming seasons as we think he’s going to be a really good player for us.”

McCartin joins a host of Swans to commit to Sydney in 2018, including Aliir Aliir, Will Hayward, Ben Ronke, Ryley Stoddart, Joel Amartey, Matt Ling, Jarrad McVeigh, Heath Grundy and Sam Naismith.

Morris locked in for 2019

Western Bulldogs veteran defender Dale Morris will play on in 2019 after putting pen to paper on a one-year contract extension.

Morris, who turns 36 in December, will enter his 15th season at VU Whitten Oval, after being taken at pick 19 in the 2004 Rookie Draft.

“I’m one of the lucky ones that gets to play footy for a living, so to be able to do that again for another year at least, is something I’m really excited about,” Morris said.

“There’s a lot in the decision to play on, especially at 35. There’s a lot in the physical side of things. Not only can you play a whole season, but get through another pre-season. They’re long and they’re tough.

“It’s also the mental side of things. Footy is very demanding, physically and mentally. It’s not a decision I make on my own – I talk to my wife and my kids.

“I want to play on for as long as I can. I love this job, I love this club, I love what I do.

“To be able to sign on and play next year, I’m rapt.”

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Ratugolea signs on

A trio of young Cats have put pen to paper on new contracts with the club. Jack Henry, Quinton Narkle and Esava Ratugolea have all agreed to extend their tenure.

Henry has signed on until the end of 2020. After debuting in round two this season, Henry has gone on to hold down a critical role in defence. He has been ever present since his debut, playing 16 games straight. A local product, Henry was selected in the 2016 rookie draft and spent the 2017 season at VFL level.

Narkle has signed a two-year extension until 2020 after his AFL debut in round 15 against the Bulldogs. He has kicked four goals in his opening four games after overcoming a ruptured ACL suffered in 2017.

Ratugolea has committed to the Cats until the end of 2021 after running out for the first time in this season’s opening round against Melbourne. Ratugolea played eight games and kicked seven goals before suffering fractures to his fibula and tibia at the ankle in the Cats’ round 10 win over Carlton. His rehabilitation is progressing on schedule and Ratugolea could still play a further role this season.

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Rhys Stans Tall

Rhys Stanley – the Giant killer.

Geelong’s Rhys Stanley has produced one of the best performances of the season against Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn to propel the Cats to a critical late-season victory.

Stanley recorded the second-best hit-out differential of the year against the Demons’ colossus, stifling Melbourne’s production out of the middle in a crucial win for the Cats.

Brodie Grundy is the only man to have beaten Gawn in the hit-outs this year, with Stanley recording the next best result by winning 31 hitouts to Gawn’s 38 on Saturday night.

It’s a remarkable result for the Cats big, with Gawn dominating established ruckmen all season to drive the Demon engine room.

Gawn’s scalps this year include recording 39 more hitouts than Ben McEvoy, 35 more than Todd Goldstein and 28 more than Sam Jacobs.

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Tom Murphy’s contract extended

Four games is all it took for North Melbourne to make a decision to reinvest in rookie, Tom Murphy.

This week the club extended the young defender’s contract to secure his immediate future.

“To get offered a two-year contract I’m very overwhelmed and very appreciative, and can’t wait to stay with North,” Murphy told foxfooty.com.au’s Matt Balmer.

“Having a one-year contract, it’s a bit daunting as you don’t know what is going to happen for the next year, and it’s in the back of your mind.”

Murphy’s debut came in dramatic circumstances, when Jarrad Waite was a late, late withdrawal in Round 11 with a calf complaint.

“I wasn’t really sure I was going to debut like that,” Murphy recalled.

“It was a great experience and I think playing a few games after that you just appreciate how good AFL footy is and it just makes you want it that little bit more.

“It was a really good experience to be out there and I loved every moment. It was an overwhelming experience only having a couple of minutes to get ready and it’s not your usual preparation but it was great.”

Read more…Four games is all it took for North Melbourne to make a decision to reinvest in rookie, Tom Murphy.

This week the club extended the young defender’s contract to secure his immediate future.

“To get offered a two-year contract I’m very overwhelmed and very appreciative, and can’t wait to stay with North,” Murphy told foxfooty.com.au’s Matt Balmer.

“Having a one-year contract, it’s a bit daunting as you don’t know what is going to happen for the next year, and it’s in the back of your mind.”

Murphy’s debut came in dramatic circumstances, when Jarrad Waite was a late, late withdrawal in Round 11 with a calf complaint.

“I wasn’t really sure I was going to debut like that,” Murphy recalled.

“It was a great experience and I think playing a few games after that you just appreciate how good AFL footy is and it just makes you want it that little bit more.

“It was a really good experience to be out there and I loved every moment. It was an overwhelming experience only having a couple of minutes to get ready and it’s not your usual preparation but it was great.”

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Taylor-made: Why a Lion ‘couldn’t be happier’

BRISBANE livewire Lewy Taylor says coach Chris Fagan has given him a freedom to play with that has unlocked his best football.

Taylor will play his 100th game on Saturday against Carlton and says Fagan has had a huge influence on him since coming to the Lions at the end of 2016.

After winning the NAB Rising Star in 2014, Taylor’s form slowly degenerated over the following two seasons.

He was hesitant, inconsistent and seemed to complicate the game too much.

Then Fagan arrived.

“I had a really good pre-season and spoke with ‘Fages’ about where I could improve,” Taylor recalled.

“It just got back to what I could do best and that was to play some footy. It was great that he sat down one-on-one with every player.

“If you see an option, hit it, there’s no set structure with offence, just play footy and hit what you can and take the easy option.

“I felt like that was very helpful to me to just go out there and play.”

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ANATOMY OF A DEBUT — JACOB DAWSON

I started in the Gold Coast Suns academy when I was about 13, but all the way through I was a crazy Geelong supporter.

As things started to ramp up with the academy when I was 15 or 16, though, my views started to change a bit. Geelong was my team, but I always wanted to play for the Suns at AFL level.

I’ve got a real connection with the club — I’ve been there for years and I want to see the club succeed. That connection made my debut game last weekend so much more special, finally getting the chance to run out for the club I dreamed of playing for.

I found out the news on Wednesday in a team meeting. We were going through a few things as usual, and then Stewy Dew said, ‘We’ve got someone debuting.’ It came up on the screen and the boys went nuts, which was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.

I called my girlfriend Zali straight away, and she started crying as soon as I told her — I’ve been with her for four or five years, so she’s been on the journey the whole way with me.

The media team wanted me to keep it from my parents, and later that night they told mum and dad that I would be doing a normal interview with them. I asked them about family life and that sort of thing, then finished it up by asking them, ‘are you looking forward to coming to watch me play in Tassie this weekend?’

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INJURY-RAVAGED CAT TREKS A DIFFERENT PATH

If you were to take a trip through the Gippsland region of Traralgon during the most recent off-season, you were a chance to run into Geelong youngster Jordan Cunico going through his paces.

The young Cat had a troubled injury history during the early stages of his AFL career, registering one game in his first three seasons in the system after suffering knee and ankle issues.

Entering his fourth year at Geelong, Cunico decided things needed to change so he embarked on a mini pre-season when the majority of the football population were overseas for a well-earned rest.

Returning to his hometown during the summer months, the 22-year-old would regularly drag a mate to the Traralgon athletics track for some running and frequented his father’s gym to prepare himself for his biggest year yet.

“In previous years, I probably came back too unconditioned so it would take me a bit longer to get into the swing of things,” Cunico told AFLPlayers.com.au.

“But last year I came back fitter than when I left after following a running and weights program. I didn’t do much in the off-season this year in terms of going on any holidays or anything too fancy so I did as much training as I could by myself which has helped me since I came back.”

That’s not to say Cunico didn’t refresh over the summer period. The winger/half-forward just didn’t plan a massive overseas holiday.

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Tigers ruckman announces immediate retirement

SHAUN Hampson has retired from AFL Football.

The Richmond ruckman has been battling a chronic back condition for the past two seasons.

He announced his immediate retirement to his teammates on Tuesday morning.

The No.17 pick in the 2006 national draft, Hampson played 63 games for Carlton before adding another 35 games to his tally at the Tigers.

“Shaun worked bravely and tirelessly to give himself the best chance to overcome this painful injury,” Richmond football manager Neil Balme said.

“There is ultimately a point where Shaun must think of his long-term health, rather than just the immediate challenge of playing football. It was clear to Shaun and our medical staff that he had reached that point.”

Hampson has made headlines above and beyond his football career thanks to his high-profile relationship with supermodel Megan Gale.

“Shaun certainly loves his family and it was a very difficult decision for him to make,” Balme said.

“He is a very popular member of our squad and we thank him for his dedication to our football club.

“We wish Shaun, Megan and their children River and Rosie all the best for the future.”

SOURCE: AFL.COM.AU