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

PORT Adelaide has confirmed it is prepared to walk both Esava Ratugolea and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher through the draft as deals for the key defenders remain at an impasse.'s Inside Trading reported on Tuesday night that negotiations for the key defenders continued to be slow, and the national and pre-seasons drafts were looming as potential leverage. 

With less than 36 hours remaining before the Continental Tyres AFL Trade Period finishes, Power football manager Chris Davies told AFL Trade Radio all options had to be considered as the clock ticked.

Geelong has rejected Port’s offer of pick No.25 for Ratugolea, while Davies says a potential swap of Zerk-Thatcher for Xavier Duursma is complicated by the fact Port’s wingman is still under contract.

Ratugolea remains a priority, with Davies saying he is prepared to walk the out-of-contract Cat to the National of Pre-season Draft if a deal can’t be struck.

Brandon Zerk-Thatcher and Esava Ratugolea in action during a pre-season game between Essendon and Geelong in March 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

“Right now, we haven't been able to break the impasse with Geelong for Esava,” he said.

“If worse comes to worse and we're not able to find a deal in the next period of time, then that (taking Esava to the draft) does become a live option.

“It's something that we've got to think about with not just Esava, but maybe the other players that we're looking at as well.”

One of the “other players” Davies is referencing is Zerk-Thatcher, Essendon’s 25-year-old defender.

Brandon Zerk-Thatcher in action during Essendon's clash with Port Adelaide in round 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

“He's probably in a situation where he's desperately wanting to come back to Adelaide, and he's made it clear to Essendon that he doesn't want to go back there.

“That's not because he dislikes anything that happened at Essendon. It's just that he wants to come back to Adelaide.

“If we can't find a deal … then the Pre-season Draft or the National Draft become a live option.

“We're going to have to look at every option that we've got at our disposal, and walking them through the draft is one of those.”

Port looms as one of the major players over the coming days as they also try to negotiate deals for contracted Richmond ruckman Ivan Soldo and Western Bulldog Jordon Sweet. 

Davies said the Tigers hold the “whip hand” with Soldo, who has a deal until the end of 2024, while Sweet would “definitely” end up at Alberton by Wednesday night.