L-R: Ben McKay, Sam Flanders, Conor McKenna. Pictures: AFL Photos

Every Thursday AFL.com.au presents Inside Trading, with breaking news and the best analysis of the AFL trade landscape covering contracts, re-signings, free agents, the AFL Draft and industry insights.


HAWTHORN has entered the race for star key defender Ben McKay, as the market for the North Melbourne free agent continues to swell.

The Hawks are chasing key defensive depth during the upcoming trade and free agency window and have identified McKay as a target, with AFL.com.au also revealing the club's interest in Cats defender Esava Ratugolea.

Hawthorn has a need for mature-aged key defenders that it can pair alongside captain James Sicily to fast-track the team's rebuild, having already enjoyed an impressive seven-win campaign under coach Sam Mitchell this season.

Essendon, Sydney and Port Adelaide are also eyeing potential moves for McKay, who is one of the last remaining restricted free agents on the market.

Ben McKay tackles Patrick Dangerfield during the R17 match between North Melbourne and Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on July 9, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

North Melbourne also remains hopeful of retaining McKay, with the club's list manager Brady Rawlings telling Gettable earlier this month that the Kangaroos would consider forcing a trade if they didn't receive first-round compensation for his exit.

McKay's potential departure could help North Melbourne lands picks No.1 and No.2 at the upcoming national draft, should it receive tier one compensation in return. The club is currently last on the AFL ladder with one game to play in the year.

McKay, who stands at 202cm, has established himself as one of the League's best lockdown and intercept defenders across his 70-game and eight-year North Melbourne career. The Kangaroos have the ability to match any rival bid for him, given his status as a restricted free agent. – Riley Beveridge



GOLD Coast has a four-year offer in front of midfielder Sam Flanders as the young Sun decides on his future.

The Suns are keen to keep the 22-year-old, who has blossomed in the second half of this year and has Victorian interest.

Their contract would take him through to free agency at the Suns at the end of 2027, when fellow 2019 draftee Noah Anderson is also signed until.

Sam Flanders celebrates a goal with Touk Miller during the R23 match between Gold Coast and Carlton at Heritage Bank Stadium on August 19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Flanders had a career-high 36 disposals to go with his five clearances against Carlton last weekend, and has averaged 29 disposals since coming back into the team in round 15. 

The Gippsland Power product, who was pick No.11 in the draft, has been considering his options in Melbourne, with the Hawks among the clubs who have been linked to him.

Incoming coach Damien Hardwick will be keen to retain the midfielder, with the former Tigers mentor lauding the talent of the Suns' list this week at his unveiling. – Callum Twomey


IRISH recruit Conor McKenna is set to remain at the Gabba for two more seasons after making a stunning return to the AFL in 2023. 

The 27-year-old joined Brisbane on a one-year rookie deal last November after joining the club via the pre-season supplemental selection period after also exploring opportunities at St Kilda, Essendon and Port Adelaide.

McKenna is finalising a new contract on much better terms that will keep the former Bomber in Queensland until at least the end of 2025. 


The County Tyrone product has exceeded expectations in his first season back in the AFL, seamlessly slotting into a spot at half-back in Chris Fagan’s side where he has played all 22 games so far and is set to play a role in September. 

McKenna signed a four-year contract at Essendon in 2017 but returned to Ireland after three seasons amid the challenges of the pandemic, after playing 79 games in red and black across six years at the club. 

The AFL's love affair with Ireland has made a resurgence this season with GAA darling Oisin Mullin bursting onto the scene, Mark Keane grasping his chance at Adelaide and Hawthorn midfielder Conor Nash becoming a star. – Josh Gabelich


COLLINGWOOD has rewarded running defender Oleg Markov for his instant impact this season, with the fan favourite penning a one-year extension with the Pies.

Markov joined Collingwood as a pre-season supplemental selection period (SSP) recruit on the eve of the campaign, but has since played a career-high 19 times this year.

The speedster had spent the summer training with Collingwood, having previously been delisted by Gold Coast at the end of last season.

Oleg Markov during the R22 match between Collingwood and Geelong at the MCG on August 11, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

However, his hopes of winning a list spot under coach Craig McRae appeared shot when the club instead signed developing ruckman Oscar Steene under SSP rules.

Markov then spent one day trialling with Carlton, before Collingwood opened up a secondary list spot due to Charlie Dean's season-ending foot injury and swooped back in to secure the 27-year-old.

Markov has now played 70 AFL games, including 51 previously at Richmond and Gold Coast. – Riley Beveridge


ESSENDON is finalising a contract for small forward Jye Menzie, who has impressed this season after breaking through as a senior regular.

Menzie has earned his place as the side's first-choice small forward this season and is currently second on the Bombers' goalkickers list, having booted 23 majors from his last 20 games.

The 21-year-old is now in talks over a new deal for next season, having won his place on Essendon's list as a mid-year rookie recruit from SANFL side South Adelaide in 2022.


Speaking on AFL.com.au's trade and draft show Gettable this week, Menzie's manager Tim Hazell from Vivid Sports said he caught up with Bombers list boss Adrian Dodoro earlier this week to discuss the long-awaited extension.

"I actually spoke to Adrian (on Tuesday)," Hazell said.

"A contract is coming through (on Wednesday). It's been a great story. He was a mid-season pick-up, he played two games last year and then this year he's come out and played 20 games and is averaging a goal per game.

"We're really proud of Jye and he'll definitely be contracted next year. What the contract looks like, I'm not too sure yet. But we're working through it at the moment." – Riley Beveridge


CLUBS will likely consider Adelaide tall James Borlase as a trade option with the Crows defender remaining unsigned for next year.

Borlase made his AFL debut in round 21 against Gold Coast and gathered 18 disposals and nine marks in an impressive showing, playing the previous two weeks as well. 

He is out of contract at the end of the year and could attract interest as clubs scour the competition for tall backmen.

The 21-year-old has been on Adelaide's list since 2020, when he was drafted as a Next Generation Academy player on the category B rookie list, having been eligible after being born in Egypt. 

James Borlase celebrates Adelaide's win over Gold Coast in R21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

His father Darryl played 246 games and four premierships for Port Adelaide in the SANFL. 

The Crows will be without key defender Nick Murray for most of next season after requiring a knee reconstruction, while talks are still ongoing for free agent defender Tom Doedee, who will also miss half of next year after his second ACL surgery.

They are expected to look at the tall defensive market in the off-season, with CEO Tim Silvers recently telling Inside Trading their focus would "sharply move to a key defender". – Callum Twomey  


MELBOURNE, Sydney and the Western Bulldogs all loom as contenders for Gold Coast's prized pick No.4, which is on the trade table.

The Suns are auctioning off their top pick as it will be swallowed up by matching a bid on Academy trio Jed Walter, Ethan Read and Jake Rogers, as well as Will Graham later in the draft.

A bid for Walter could come in the first three picks, which will see the Suns trade the selection for the highest bidder.


Melbourne's hand of picks 15, 24 and 34 after their first pick (No.5, tied to Fremantle) gives it 2439 points, while the Swans currently hold picks 12, 22, 31, 41 and 50 in the first three rounds (3131 points). 

The Western Bulldogs' position inside or outside the finals will likely shape their interest for the selection, with the Dogs currently holding two first-round picks (No.10 and 17) that are worth 2420 points.

TRADE HUB All the latest player movement news

If the Dogs wanted to ensure they get in a selection before a bid on father-son prospect Jordan Croft, the Suns' pick looms as an option.

Essendon and Adelaide are also expected to be in the market for the Suns' selection. 

Sydney list boss Kinnear Beatson last week told Gettable that the Swans were "absolutely" interested in trading for the pick, which would guarantee access to one of the top talents in the draft pool.

"We'll look at all options and we're exploring all of them at the moment. We'll catch up with the Gold Coast boys, Kall Burns and Craig Cameron, and have a bit of a chat about what they're looking for to be able to do that," Beatson said.

"[We can] see if one, we can facilitate it or whether we need to hold those picks for trades or whatever. There's a fair bit to play out in the next month." – Callum Twomey


VETERAN North Melbourne ruckman Todd Goldstein will head into the Roos' final game of the season unsigned beyond this year and his future unclear.

The 35-year-old has played 19 games this season and has been keen to play on in 2024, with Roos list manager Brady Rawlings telling Gettable earlier this month the club was due to open talks on an offer for the big man.

However, the 314-gamer is yet to sign on beyond this season as other clubs mull whether to make plays for the ruckman.


The 2015 All-Australian was left out of the Roos' side in round one as North preferred youngster Tristan Xerri in the ruck position but Xerri was injured in the season-opener, leading to a longer stint for Goldstein.

Essendon has only one ruckman signed for next year with Andrew Phillips retiring and Nick Bryan fielding rival offers, while West Coast, Sydney, Port Adelaide and Geelong are all in the market for rucks, as may be Collingwood. – Callum Twomey


CASHED up clubs such as Hawthorn, Essendon and North Melbourne will be keenly eyeing the AFL's decision on introducing pick purchasing after the League asked clubs for feedback on the plan.

AFL.com.au revealed last week the AFL had sent a survey to clubs on the future of list management and player movement, with the League interested in clubs' views on a range of new rules and tweaks.

Included in that was 'pick purchasing', which AFL.com.au revealed was part of the plans allowing a club to trade a draft pick in exchange for salary cap space. 

With strong support, some of the measures put forward by the AFL could be considered for this upcoming off-season's trade and free agency period.

Clubs such as the Hawks, Bombers and Kangaroos will be in strong positions to benefit from pick purchasing if a form of it does come in for 2023 given the clubs' big salary cap space. 

DRAFT HUB Click here for the latest draft news

The AFL's questions on pick purchasing to clubs included whether the payments for picks should only apply to the year the draft selection is in, if clubs should be able to trade future draft picks for salary space and whether there should be a cap on how many players per club have contributions from rivals and how much a club can pay for rival clubs.

The dollar value of draft selections and whether that should be determined by the AFL on a cascading level has also been raised, with clubs returning their feedback this month. – Callum Twomey


COLLINGWOOD big man Nathan Kreuger is out of contract this year but has an offer for 2024 to remain at the Magpies.

Kreuger crossed from Geelong at the end of 2021 with a two-year deal with a trigger for next season but given his injuries has only played seven games over that time.

The Magpies have put a one-year deal to Kreuger, with the 24-year-old a versatile key position option for the Pies. 

Nathan Kreuger handballs during the R6 match between Collingwood and Essendon at the MCG on April 25, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Kreuger has had a luckless injury run at the Magpies, including having a shoulder reconstruction over last pre-season after battling shoulder issues through the game.

He played in the VFL for the Magpies on the weekend and didn't complete the game with a shoulder concern but he was cleared of injury. 

Kreuger has played nine AFL games, having originally joined the AFL as an on-traded mature-age player from Carlton to the Cats. – Callum Twomey