Veteran ruckman Todd Goldstein is officially a Bomber after joining Essendon as a free agent, with the paperwork also lodged to sign his teammate Ben McKay on a six-year deal.
The Bombers also expect Jade Gresham to arrive as a free agent from St Kilda early this week, as list boss Adrian Dodoro confirmed talks had been held with Port Adelaide wingman Xavier Duursma.
Dodoro firmly denied that the Bombers had discussed trading powerful midfielder Dylan Shiel to the Saints as part of a trade for Gresham, calling the 30-year-old “very much a required player”.
Goldstein, who played 315 games in 17 years at North Melbourne, said he was looking forward to “supporting and challenging” the Bombers’ young ruck duo of Sam Draper and Nick Bryan.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity Essendon has presented to me to continue my career and I look forward to joining a list with great potential,” Goldstein said.
“I’m really excited to support and challenge Sam Draper and Nick Bryan as they continue to drive to be the best rucks they can be. I have admired their progression and look forward to working with them closely this pre-season.”
Dodoro said the 35-year-old would be on equal footing with Draper and Bryan when it came to opportunities at senior level.
“Goldy has still got the opportunity to play league footy – form will determine it. I don’t think anyone has got a right over the No. 1 ruck spot. If he’s the best going around and in form, then he’ll get the opportunity,” Dodoro said.
Dodoro said coach Brad Scott’s preference to play two ruckmen had driven their push for Goldstein after the retirement of Andrew Phillips.
“What gives me confidence is that Brad likes to play two rucks, that’s the way he structures up each week, so it’s part of our DNA as a team that he likes to play two rucks,” he said.
“We just wanted to have a good ruck combination going forward, particularly an experienced ruckman because I think Todd will really help young (Nick) Bryan in running patterns, professionalism and what have you.”
He said Sam Draper’s groin surgery had been successful and he would be available to play in round 1 next year.
Duursma looms as a fourth target for Essendon after its free agent trio is secured, but Dodoro said the 23-year-old wingman was yet to request a trade.
“He hasn’t indicated (he wants to join Essendon) … we certainly have spoken to him, and we’ll just see how that plays out,” he said.
Port Adelaide football boss Chris Davies reiterated that Duursma hadn’t requested a move.
“No request has come from Xavier’s side. If a player ends up wanting to move from our club then we have got a decision to make but right now that decision isn‘t presenting itself,” he said.
“We had a conversation with Xavier at the end of the year to align our expectations of him and also his position in the club. But from there it’s a discussion for the player.
“Does his perspective align with ours and if not there will be a discussion down the track.”
Dodoro, who will be replaced by former West Coast player Matt Rosa in 2024 under a Bombers succession plan, said he expected Gresham to join alongside McKay and Goldstein as a restricted free agent rather than in a trade.
“(Gresham) has certainly nominated us, and we’re just working through some details and hopefully we’ll have some paperwork in the next 24 hours I’d imagine,” he said.
“There is upside definitely in Jade … he’s not an Essendon player, so I’ve got to be mindful in pulling the cart before the horse.
“But look, he’s a talented player that plays half-forward, on-ball – it’s a need we’re looking to fill, so if we’re fortunate enough to get him, that would be great, but there’s a free agency process and they can match the bid at any point.”
Dodoro said there had been no discussion between Essendon and St Kilda about a potential move for Dylan Shiel, who was limited to 12 games after his season was derailed by a foot issue.
“No – I think Dylan is still very much a required Essendon player,” he said.