SHAUN Higgins is set for a fresh start in 2015 having told the Western Bulldogs he intends to leave the club as a free agent.
Higgins' manager, Bruce Kaider of One Management Group, told AFL.com.au
on Tuesday his client had told the Bulldogs it was in his best interests to continue his career at a new club.
Kaider said North Melbourne and another club, which he preferred not to name, were in the running to sign Higgins when the NAB AFL free agency period opens on Friday.
Given the 26-year-old utility is a restricted free agent, the Bulldogs can keep him by matching the terms of any rival offer.
But Kaider believed the mutual respect developed between Higgins and the Bulldogs over his nine years at the Whitten Oval would ensure the club did not stand in his way.
"Shaun has informed the Bulldogs that he wishes to exercise his rights as a free agent and, more than that, would like to continue his career at another club," Kaider said.
"Shaun believes that it's in his best interests – on and off the field – to have a fresh start.
"He's got a good relationship with the Bulldogs and I think they will respect his wishes and not hold him back.
"There is a real mutual respect between both parties."
North has recently emerged as the frontrunner to secure Higgins' services and it would be a surprise if he did not line up in the Roos' royal blue and white next season.
"I think he'd be a great fit," Kaider told NAB AFL Trade Radio on Tuesday afternoon.
"I think he'll complement what's already there. I think if they can get Shaun back playing in his natural position, off the wing, through half-forward and maybe through the midfield at times, I think absolutely. And in the conversations we've had with the Kangaroos, that is their intention."
Geelong and Greater Western Sydney are among the clubs previously linked to Higgins.
It was believed the Cats had bowed out of the race to focus on landing Melbourne free agent James Frawley, but that could have changed given Hawthorn has emerged as the frontrunner to sign the Demon.
Carlton last week ruled itself out of the running for Higgins, while Richmond, after expressing some preliminary interest, did so months ago.
Clubs cannot make a formal offer to Higgins until the free agency period opens on Friday but Kaider told Trade Radio that he was hopeful of a deal being finalised by Friday.
Higgins was pick No.11 in the 2005 NAB AFL Draft and played 129 matches for the Bulldogs and kicked 128 goals.
He played 20 of 22 matches this year. Higgins was omitted in rounds 17 and 18 and there were rumours his omission was due to his intention to leave the club.
"I had heard that theory," Kaider said.
"I'd be really, really disappointed if the coaching staff at the Western Bulldogs had dropped him based on that. I would like to think he was dropped because of team balance, or a form issue."