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Jones, Crowley head ex-AFL players to play in WAFL

After an impressive VFL season for Sandringham, Clint Jones is headed to the WAFL to play for Perth - ${keywords}
After an impressive VFL season for Sandringham, Clint Jones is headed to the WAFL to play for Perth

FORMER St Kilda midfielder Clint Jones headlines a host of ex-AFL players that have signed with WAFL clubs for the 2016 season.

Perth has been the most active of the WA clubs in recruiting former AFL players after winning just two games last season under first-year coach, former Carlton and Melbourne forward Earl Spalding.

Ex-Richmond ruckman Angus Graham has joined Jones at the Demons. Another former Saint, Spencer White, has also signed with Perth. St Kilda delisted White, 21, in October after he played just two games in three seasons with the club.

Perth's football manager, Tyson Beattie, told his club was expecting big things from Jones.

"Last year Clint actually finished (equal) second in the Liston Trophy. So he's probably going to be there or thereabouts as one of the best midfielders in the WAFL," he said.

"It's massive for us because we have a good core of 21-to-25-year-olds. But we needed that really experienced midfielder like Clint Jones to push us forward. 

"He has all that experience in the AFL, but also at the level below playing for Sandringham last year and he's a dual best and fairest for South Fremantle. 

"I think it's his training habits that are the most exciting thing because he is an elite runner."

White, once touted as the next Lance Franklin, is a similarly exciting prospect for Perth.

"We were really impressed with how much hunger Spencer had to improve and have another crack at trying to get back into the AFL," Beattie said. 

"It's a good opportunity for him. But for us, we're getting a key forward we can use as a target."

Swan Districts also pulled off a coup by recruiting former Fremantle tagger Ryan Crowley. The 31-year-old won a premiership with Subiaco in 2004 and elected to join Swans following his delisting by Fremantle

Troubled former West Coast player Murray Newman has also returned to Swan Districts, having last played there in 2013.

Subiaco has also been active in recruiting WAFL premiership players Greg Broughton (ex-Gold Coast and Fremantle) and Adam Cockie (ex-West Coast), as well as former Hawthorn forward Sam Grimley, to offset the losses of Sam Menegola (Geelong) and Shane Yarran (Fremantle).

The Tigers have recruited former Collingwood rookie Jye Bolton. He spent the 2011 season on the Magpies' rookie list after being plucked from Leopold in 2010. He joined Werribee following his stint with the Magpies and now heads to the WAFL after several good years at VFL level.

The Sharks have been more active in recruiting coaches than players. Former Carlton assistant Rob Wiley takes over the reins as head coach and is joined by new assistants Luke McPharlin (Fremantle), Phil Matera (West Coast), Jacob Brennan (West Coast) and Bradd Dalziell (Brisbane Lions and West Coast). Former Carlton player Matthew Watson has followed Wiley to East Fremantle. Former Fremantle and East Fremantle players Brett Peake and Josh Simpson have returned. Another former Docker, Jesse Crichton, heads back to WA after two seasons at Werribee. Crichton previously played 50 games with Peel Thunder during his four seasons on Fremantle's list.

Jesse Crichton's notable blonde locks will be back to grace the WAFL in 2016. Picture: AFL Media

The Royals' alignment with West Coast means they will benefit from the Eagles' recruiting. Experienced ruckman Jonathan Giles is likely to play a lot of WAFL football with the Royals if Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett remain fit. Some of the Eagles' new draftees including Luke Partington, Tom Cole, Kurt Mutimer and Matthew Allen will also likely start with the Royals.

Former Carlton rookie Brad Walsh returns to his home club, Peel, after just one season on the Blues' list. Walsh returns having won the best and fairest for the Northern Blues in the VFL. The Dockers' new recruits will become Peel Thunder players under the alignment system. It has been tough for new draftees to break into the Fremantle side in recent seasons so the likes of last year's WAFL leading goalkicker Shane Yarran, mature-age VFL defender Sam Collins, and youngsters Harley Balic and Darcy Tucker appear set to start next season with the Thunder.

The Demons have added some badly needed experience in the form of Clint Jones and Angus Graham. Jones, who played 149 AFL matches with St Kilda, won a WAFL premiership in 2005 with South Fremantle prior to being drafted by the Saints. But the 31-year-old turned his back on his former club to join the Demons next season. Graham played 48 games with Richmond between 2007 and 2012 before heading to Adelaide where he failed to play a game for the Crows in two seasons. Perth was ranked last in scoring in 2015 so Spencer White's inclusion could provide the Demons with a real focal point.

Ex-Tiger Angus Graham heads to Perth after failing to score a game for the Crows. Picture: AFL Media

The Bulldogs may have missed out on Jones but they have added three former players in Dylan Main (West Coast), Mason Shaw (Port Adelaide) and Blaine Johnson (Carlton) after all three were delisted from their respective AFL clubs at the end of the season.

The Lions signed former best-and-fairest winner and three-time premiership player Greg Broughton who returns to WA after 42 games across three seasons with the Suns. Broughton won three premierships with the Lions prior to joining Fremantle as a rookie in 2009. He played 68 games with the Dockers before being traded to the Suns in 2012. Subiaco has also signed discarded Hawthorn forward Sam Grimley. The 24-year-old played just three matches over six seasons with the Hawks but was an excellent performer for Box Hill in the VFL. Grimley shared the Frosty Miller medal in each of the last two seasons as the VFL's leading goalkicker. Former Eagle Adam Cockie also brings premiership experience, having played in the Lions' 2008 flag.

Highly touted Power forward Mason Shaw will line up for South Fremantle in 2016. Picture: AFL Media

Former West Coast small forward Murray Newman will return to Swans in 2016. Newman started his WAFL career with Swans but has not played with the club since he left a game in unusual circumstances at quarter-time in round 17, 2013, while he was dealing with personal issues. Newman did not play WAFL football in 2014 as he served a six-month jail term. He then played for East Perth in 2015 due to the alignment with the Eagles. He will be a valuable addition alongside Ryan Crowley after the Swans lost experienced duo Ryan Davis (Gold Coast) and Nathan Broad (Richmond) to the AFL. 

Former Docker Max Duffy has joined West Perth ahead of next season. Duffy was drafted to the Dockers from East Fremantle after kicking 33 goals from 15 games in the 2012 WAFL season. But he has elected for a fresh start with the Falcons in 2016 after playing just three AFL games over three seasons with the Dockers.