Esava Ratugolea during the round 10 match between Fremantle and Geelong at Optus Stadium, May 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

GEELONG is confident it will find a "really good outcome" in trade negotiations with Port Adelaide over uncontracted defender Esava Ratugolea, who is expected to leave the club over the next month.

Ratugolea has nominated the Power as his preferred new home during this year's Trade Period after also receiving interest from Hawthorn and an offer to stay at the Cats.

It comes after the 197cm key-position prospect attempted to move to Port Adelaide last year, only for Geelong to reject any potential move and hold him to a contract that expires this season.

However, speaking on's trade and draft show Gettable earlier this week, the Cats' new general manager of football Andrew Mackie said the club would look to leverage a growing demand for key defenders in the trade market.

"He, through his management, has said that he would like to change clubs," Mackie said.


"As we've seen in the key back market, there's big demand isn't there? It's no different for big Esava. He's known, from our end, our intent with him from a long way out. My role as the list manager in that is to deliver a really good outcome for the footy club, so whatever that looks like.

"There's no doubt, if you look across the competition with the key-position players in general, there's a real need from clubs in those players. But there's not that many available."

Port Adelaide is currently in possession of picks in the second, third and fourth round of the draft, but does not hold its first-round pick after trading it to North Melbourne last year in a deal for Jason Horne-Francis.

It could lead to Geelong asking for a future first-round pick, or potentially players, in a swap deal for Ratugolea though Mackie remained tight-lipped on the Cats' negotiating plans ahead of the Trade Period.

Esava Ratugolea marks during the round 21 match between Geelong and Port Adelaide at GMHBA Stadium, August 5, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"That stuff, we'll keep to ourselves and our team around what that could look like," Mackie said.

"Albeit, what I will say is when players like that – in that age bracket, with those attributes and the position they play – there's a premium on that, given the market forces around it.

"We'll keep working what that looks like from our end. From our end, we're involved over a strategy and we try and work through what that looks like. We're clear internally on what that needs to be."

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Ratugolea played 16 games this season, predominantly in his new position in the backline, after his failed attempts at moving to Port Adelaide last year, with Mackie praising the way in which he attacked the campaign.

"For the most part, we were able to make sure that he played AFL footy," Mackie said.

"To his credit, his last 18 months have been really good as a key defender. That shift came as he was doing his thing ahead of the footy. We thought, 'How can we make sure we get the best out of Esava?' He's such a talented player and a physical specimen.

"It just seemed that he was going a way where we thought, 'How do we explore a potential upside?' He bought into that himself, and credit to our coaching staff who did a great job with that.
"From that point on, it's been a really positive shift. He's in a good head space and he loves playing with our guys. He's got some really good teammates and mates down there."