JAMES Aish has finally made his way to Collingwood in a complicated three-way trade that will also send Ryan Bastinac to the Brisbane Lions.
Aish endured an agonising wait to see whether the Brisbane Lions would grant his requested move to the Holden Centre, with the Lions, Magpies and North Melbourne signing off on the deal just 90 minutes before the trade period ended at 2pm on Thursday.
In the deal that followed drawn-out, and at times tense, negotiations between the Lions and Pies:
- Collingwood received Aish and pick No.34 and 53, and gave up picks No.26, 28, 47 and a 2016 second-round pick;
- The Lions received Bastinac and picks No.38 and 40, a 2016 second-round pick (St Kilda) and a 2016 third-round pick (North), and gave up Aish and pick No.17; and
- North received picks No.17, 26, 28 and 47, and gave up Bastinac and picks No.34, 38, 40, 53 and its 2016 third-round pick.
The Aish signing completes a successful trade period for the Pies, with Giant Adam Treloar and Demon Jeremy Howe also heading to the Holden Centre.
But there were times over the past two past weeks when Aish's chances of becoming a Magpie looked remote.
After delaying an announcement on his future for more than a month after the Lions' season finished, Aish requested a trade to Collingwood on October 8, just three days before the start of the NAB AFL Trade Period.
The Lions initially refused to entertain a trade for 2013's No.7 draft pick, but they relented and opened talks with Collingwood last Thursday.
North complicated things when it made a late bid for Aish around the same time, trying to tempt the South Australian to Arden Street with a more lucrative deal than the Pies were offering.
The Lions would ideally have preferred to deal with the Roos on Aish given their interest in Bastinac, and appeared to be on the verge of completing a direct deal with North for Bastinac on Wednesday.
The Pies' efforts to get the Aish deal were also hampered by their inability to finalise a deal for their No.1 trade priority, GWS midfielder Treloar, until Wednesday, leaving them just one day to finalise the Aish talks.
Lions list manager Peter Schwab said his club was desperate to land a readymade midfielder through the Aish trade.
"We were always clear that we had to get a player at least in whatever deal we did … and we think that Ryan is an ideal player to replace the loss of James. He's older and more credentialed and plays in a similar spot. We think that's ideal for us. We also lost Jack Redden so it was critical we got a midfielder."
Aish's future was the subject of speculation for much of 2015 as he resisted the Lions' attempts to re-sign him beyond his standard initial two-year contract.
Aish, who turns 20 next month, enjoyed a standout first season at the Gabba, playing 21 games and finishing fourth in the 2013 NAB AFL Rising Star award and ninth in the Lions' best and fairest award.
The Norwood product could not back up that effort this year, playing just 11 senior games as he was dropped to the NEAFL four times.
Bastinac joins the Lions on a four-year deal and will help the Lions cover Aish's departure and that of fellow midfielder Jack Redden to West Coast earlier in the trade period.
The 24-year-old was contracted at Arden Street until the end of 2017, but has fallen out of favour over the past two seasons.
He shaped as one of North's most promising midfielders in his first four seasons at the club, finishing eighth in the Roos' 2012 best and fairest award and sixth in 2013.
Bastinac played every game in 2014 but struggled to adapt to a more outside role, starting in the substitute's green vest in all three of North's finals.
This year, he was dropped four times and missed North's entire finals campaign.