RICHMOND has retained one of its most exciting young talents after re-signing small forward Shai Bolton for 2019.
In March, the uncontracted West Australian put talks for a new deal on hold until the end of the season, sparking fears he could depart Punt Road.
Richmond football manager Neil Balme told AFL.com.au on Wednesday that Bolton had signed a new one-year deal.
"We're very pleased to re-sign Shai and he's very keen to stay," Balme said.
"He'll get the opportunity to play next season and if he plays well, which we're hopeful he will, then we suspect we'll soon be in strong negotiations to lock him away longer-term.
"Shai is very settled in Melbourne and is an extreme talent. He's just got to get some consistency in football, which we're confident he can."
Bolton's manager, Ralph Carr, said there was never any danger of his client leaving Punt Rd.
"We're excited to re-sign, Shai was always going to because he loves the club," Carr said.
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"We put talks on hold until the end of the year but that was more so Shai could concentrate on his football and developing his game.
"He loves the club, loves the facilities – Richmond has the best indigenous facilities in the AFL – and he can't wait to return for the pre-season."
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Taken with pick No.29 in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, Bolton played six games in a highly promising debut season.
The 19-year-old played just three games this year because of injury, form and Richmond's settled senior line-up, but his speed, goal sense and defensive pressure suggests he has a bright future.
Bolton recently had successful cartilage surgery that Richmond is confident will have him in good shape for next season.
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Bolton's re-signing is a coup for Richmond, which is poised to lose valuable depth with Reece Conca, Sam Lloyd, Corey Ellis, Anthony Miles, Jacob Townsend and Tyson Stengle all expected to depart in the upcoming player exchange period.
However, the Tigers are set to land this year's biggest free agency prize, with former Gold Coast captain Tom Lynch nominating Punt Road as his preferred new home on Tuesday.