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Leuenberger a Bomber: Lions opt against matching Dons' offer for free agent

Michael Whiting  October 15, 2015 4:38 PM

Get excited by: Matthew Leuenberger Essendon set to secure big Lion ruckman as a free agent

ESSENDON has secured ruckman Matthew Leuenberger after the Brisbane Lions declined to match the Dons' offer on the unrestricted free agent.

Leuenberger, 27, nominated the Bombers as his club of preference on Monday, and has now got there on a three-year deal.

After the Lions were told they would receive an end-of-second-round compensation pick (provisionally No.39) for the big man, they flirted with matching the Bombers' offer to force a trade negotiation, but ultimately declined.

New Essendon coach John Worsfold said he was excited by Leuenberger's addition.

"Matthew provides us with a really strong and agile ruck option, he has more than 100 games of experience, so we’re really pleased he’s signed with the club," Worsfold said.

Leuenberger has played 108 games in an injury-interrupted nine seasons, and managed 14 in 2015, largely as second fiddle to preferred ruckman Stefan Martin.

Lions CEO Greg Swann said he was happy for Leuenberger to find a new home, but was still disappointed with the compensation pick.

"He can't play on here in the position he wants to play, so we were happy for him to explore other options - although we still would have expected better compensation for him," Swann said.

"At the end of the day we want to make sure things work out for him, given his service to the club, and we wish him all the best in the future."

The 203cm West Australian also weighed up an offer from the Sydney Swans, but decided on the Bombers.

He will likely take the No.1 ruck mantle in front of Tom Bellchambers, who struggled for much of 2015 with injury.

Leuenberger was taken by the Lions with pick No.4 in the 2006 NAB AFL Draft.