Premiership midfielder Toby McLean has been axed by the Western Bulldogs in a bid to free up another list spot late in the trade period.
McLean will depart after 102 games in nine seasons, after returning to play six games this year following two ACL injuries in 2020 and 2021.
The 27-year-old was an important member of the Bulldogs’ premiership side, gathering 18 disposals and kicking a goal in the grand final as he played across a wing and half-forward.
Bulldogs list boss Sam Power thanked McLean for his contribution to the club, saying the “outcomes of the trade period to date” had influenced the decision not to offer him another contract.
“Toby has been a heart and soul player for the Western Bulldogs over a long period and will always be remembered for playing a role in the 2016 premiership victory,” Power said.
“A very popular team man, Toby went out of his way to help all his teammates and would play selfless roles for the team on the field.
“Given the outcomes of the trade period to date and the future direction of the list, we’ve decided to make this further change now.”
It comes as Melbourne and Brisbane completed a trade to send Lions ruck-forward Tom Fullarton to the Demons in exchange for pick 47.
Fullarton, 24, played 19 games for Brisbane after he was signed as a category B rookie from NBL outfit Brisbane Bullets midway through the 2018 season.
The 200cm utility will provide the Demons with additional ruck depth after Brodie Grundy left to join Sydney on Wednesday.
North Melbourne also made another move, bringing in untried former Swan Toby Pink as a delisted free agent.
The key defender spent three seasons on Sydney’s list before earning a second shot at the AFL with a tremendous campaign for SANFL premiers Glenelg this season, where he was named in the league’s team of the year.
Pink joins Zac Fisher and Dylan Stephens in moving to Arden Street as the Roos parted ways with free agents Ben McKay and Todd Goldstein earlier this week.
Gunston wants back in at Hawthorn
Triple AFL premiership forward Jack Gunston has asked Brisbane for a trade back to Hawthorn in a stunning turnaround one year after he moved north.
Gunston, 31, joined the Lions on a two-year deal after 11 seasons at the Hawks but wants to return home after being overlooked in Brisbane’s finals campaign despite recovering from a medial ligament injury.
Injuries and form affected the veteran as he was restricted to 22 goals in 17 games this season, but he was among Hawthorn’s best in 2022 as he booted 32 majors in 16 games.
Hawthorn is yet to confirm it is willing to come to the table to bring Gunston back to the club as the Lions say they are “assessing its position”.
“The Brisbane Lions confirm Jack Gunston has informed the club of his desire to return to Hawthorn,” a club statement said on Friday.
“While understanding Jack’s situation, as a contracted player the club is assessing its position and will work through its options.”
Earlier this year, Gunston told the Herald Sun that returning to play at the MCG had been a struggle following the death of his father Ray in July 2022.
The forward is from Melbourne but was drafted to Adelaide, where he played 14 games in two seasons before joining Hawthorn, with pick 29 in 2009.
Gresham secures Bombers move
It comes as St Kilda was handed end of first round compensation (currently pick 21) after allowing Jade Gresham to join Essendon as a restricted free agent on the final day of the window.
The Saints elected not to match the Bombers’ bid on the 26-year-old, who is the third experienced recruit to arrive at The Hangar in the off-season after Ben McKay and Todd Goldstein joined from North Melbourne earlier this week.
Gresham played 23 of 24 games this season for St Kilda, averaging 18 disposals, three tackles and a goal per game as he spent most of his time as a forward.
He kicked 65 goals across his second and third seasons in 2017-18, but injuries curtailed his impact over the following three years.
The Bombers were keen to bring in the agile right-footer to bolster their small forward stocks after relying on Jye Menzie (23 goals in 21 games) and Matt Guelfi (14 goals in 13 games) in 2023.
Archie Perkins kicked 18 goals but spent increasing amounts of time on the ball in the second half of the season, while 19-year-old Alwyn Davey Jr showed promise with 10 games in his debut season.
Essendon list boss Adrian Dodoro said Gresham would be an important leader for the Bombers’ forward line.
“We’re excited to bring Jade to Essendon. He’s a quality player who’s a proven goalkicker and will be a great addition to our football club,” Dodoro said.
“He will complement our developing small forwards and provide great leadership and experience as our forward mix continues to evolve.
“We’re confident his best footy is ahead of him and can’t wait to see him run around in the red and black next year.”
St Kilda has until Wednesday night’s deadline to secure a deal for Carlton midfielder Paddy Dow, with the Blues saying on Monday they wanted a future pick in exchange for the 23-year-old.
The likely move of defender Nick Coffield to the Western Bulldogs could open up the Dow trade, while Essendon is yet to agree to a deal with Port Adelaide in which Xavier Duursma and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher could move clubs.
Duursma’s manager David Trotter told AFL Trade Radio that the Power wingman was prepared to stay at Alberton if he had to but hoped to secure a move for more opportunities at the Bombers.
“(Duursma) is contracted … Port have got a bit of power there in terms of if they want to keep him, they can keep him,” Trotter said.
“There’s been talk of Xav saying, ‘I want to be a midfielder’, I think that’s not exactly the case.
“He knows with his strengths, his running and his outside game that that’s his role, but I think he probably can have more of an impact (at Essendon).”