(L-R): Tyson Stengle, Dyson Heppell, Finn Callaghan. Pictures: AFL Photos

Get all the latest news in the trade, free agency and draft landscape every week in Inside Trading, AFL.com.au's dedicated column for player movement. Find out the latest on contracts, deals, trades, draftees, rules, agents and who is going where from the AFL.com.au team. 


GEELONG'S in-demand free agent Tyson Stengle is understood to be closing in on a new deal with the club.

The star small forward has been weighing his contract call through the season, having wanted to wait until after the Cats' bye before focusing on his decision.

He has been the subject of significant rival interest and offers, but AFL.com.au can reveal an extension is on the horizon for Stengle at the Cats.

Tyson Stengle kicks for goal during the R13 match between Geelong and Sydney at the SCG on June 9, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

As an unrestricted free agent, because he had previously been delisted in the AFL, Stengle was able to walk to any club with the Cats not having the chance to match a rival free agency offer.

The 25-year-old, who started his career at Richmond and then moved to Adelaide, kicked 53 goals and was an All-Australian in his first season with the Cats in 2022, including kicking four goals in the Grand Final win over Sydney. – Callum Twomey


RICHMOND has opened discussions with pre-agent Noah Balta on a contract extension, with the key Tiger the club's most important signing in 2025.

Balta is signed until the end of next year but AFL.com.au understands talks are already underway to lock him in longer term as he heads into his free agency year.

The versatile key-position player, who started forward under new coach Adem Yze but has recently been playing as a defender, shapes as the Tigers' highest priority next year and an important pillar in their build back up the ladder.


Balta is set to play his 100th career game later this season after making his debut in 2019. He played in the Tigers' 2020 premiership side as the club went back-to-back with its Grand Final win over Geelong at the Gabba.

Talented youngsters Josh Gibcus and Tom Brown, as well as premiership star Tom Lynch, are other Tigers due to fall out of contract at the end of 2025.

Balta is one of the highest profile pre-agents who reach free agency for the first time in 2025 as members of the 2017 draft class, with North Melbourne's Luke Davies-Uniacke, Fremantle's Andrew Brayshaw, West Coast's Oscar Allen, Carlton's Tom De Koning and Brisbane's Cam Rayner others in the group. – Callum Twomey


NED MOYLE'S decision to pen a long-term contract extension at Gold Coast has thrown a spanner in the works for ruck-hungry clubs, who are now scouring the market for ready-made tall options.

Unlike in previous years, when the frequency of ruck movement in the trade landscape led to the term 'ruck merry-go-round' being coined, clubs have now been hinting at fewer potential big men being available this season.

The reigning All-Australian Tim English remains the pick of the ruck choices on the market, but is still weighing up a long-term offer to stay at the Western Bulldogs as well as rival interest stemming predominantly from West Coast.

Moyle had long appeared the next best candidate for clubs considering adding an uncontracted ruck this off-season, but as revealed by AFL.com.au last week the 206cm youngster has now signed on with the Suns until 2028.

Ned Moyle in action during a Gold Coast training session at People First Stadium on June 18, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Adelaide, St Kilda and Collingwood had been among the clubs linked to Moyle during the first part of the season, where he has played just four senior games deputising behind co-captain Jarrod Witts, for a career tally of six. 

Adelaide's Kieran Strachan has had interest in the past, but is contracted and has recently returned to the side, while Essendon's Nick Bryan has also been on the radar of rival clubs but is under contract for next year.

Hawthorn's Ned Reeves and Carlton's Marc Pittonet have longer-term deals running through until 2026 and 2027, respectively, but have also been floated by clubs as potential options given their lack of senior football this season. – Riley Beveridge


ST KILDA is still yet to make list decisions on a handful of veterans at Moorabbin, but the Saints are working on a new contract for Mason Wood

The 30-year-old has reignited his career at the Saints, playing 61 games across four seasons at the club since being delisted by North Melbourne at the end of 2020. 

Wood will secure at least a one-year deal with the wingman’s form and professionalism a chance to land a two-year contract for the first time since he was signed via the pre-season supplemental selection period. 

Brad Hill and Mason Wood celebrate a goal during St Kilda's clash against West Coast in round 12, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Tim Membrey, Seb Ross, Zak Jones, Jimmy Webster and Tom Campbell are all above the age of 30 and all remain out of contract beyond October. 

Membrey is a free agent and is attracting interest from rival clubs looking for a mobile forward target, while Ross is keen to play on but the two-time Trevor Barker Award winner is yet to receive an extension. 

Key defender Dougal Howard is in the final year of the five-year deal he signed when he moved from Port Adelaide at the end of 2019 and yet start discussions around another contract. 

Brad Crouch hit a trigger early this season to remain at the club in 2025, but has been sidelined for most of the year with a lingering knee issue. 

Riley Bonner has played every game for the Saints since being delisted by the Power at the end of last year, but is yet to receive an offer for next season. – Josh Gabelich

Riley Bonner is tackled by Jaidyn Stephenson during St Kilda's clash against North Melbourne in round eight, 2024. Picture: Getty Images


ESSENDON veteran Dyson Heppell says he would be keen to play on into a 15th AFL season as he reaches his 250-game milestone this week.

The former Bombers captain has played all bar one game for the club since Brad Scott took over ahead of last season and has had a strong campaign with his versatility showing through. 

Heppell is out of contract at the end of this season and an unrestricted free agent, but ahead of his milestone game against the Cats on Saturday night, said he was planning on continuing in 2025. 

Dyson Heppell in action during the R10 match between Essendon and North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on May 19, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

"If I said right now, absolutely. I've loved the season, I'm really enjoying my footy but there's a lot of footy left in the season to go yet," Heppell told AFL.com.au this week. 

Discussions haven't picked up yet on a new deal, with his one-year extension last year being signed in late August. 

"We'll do that in due course. We'll let it go for the back end of the year and away we'll go," the 32-year-old said. – Callum Twomey


FINN Callaghan is expected to play out the year before sitting down with Greater Western Sydney officials to hash out his next contract.

The Giants have been proactive in tying down their most important players a full season before they're due to come out of contract, recently extending both Lachie Ash (until 2027) and Sam Taylor (2032) despite both having deals for next year.

Callaghan is another 2025 contract priority for Adam Kingsley's side, with the former top-three pick already establishing himself as one of the competition's brightest young prospects.

Finn Callaghan handballs during the R14 match between GWS and Port Adelaide at Engie Stadium on June 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

However, speaking on AFL.com.au's trade and draft show Gettable last week, Callaghan's agent Tom Seccull from Hemisphere Management Group said the 21-year-old likely wouldn't open talks on his own next deal until the end of the campaign at the earliest.

"Finn is a special talent," Seccull said.

"He's got a really good mix. He's got some good highlights, but he's also had his fluctuations with form as well. He's had the foot injury that he's carried through his first three years and I think he's only really now getting to potentially close to 90 or 100 per cent. Pretty much, the start of his career, he's been rolling around at 75 or 80 per cent of fitness. He's working through that.

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"It's a timing thing. Each player is different with the timing of what they want to do. Some of them can happen really quickly and everyone is on the same page, then others can take a bit more time. I think Finn is one where he'll just play out the year.

"We've been in constant chats with [Giants list manager] Jason McCartney around how he's going, but he loves it up there. What they've built with their young players, you've probably heard from others, but it's really special there. They're a really tight group. He loves it up there. He loves the lifestyle and everything.

"Again, it's a timing thing. We'll most likely sit down with the club at the end of the year." – Riley Beveridge


ADELAIDE midfielder Sam Berry has put off contract talks, with the hard-nosed onballer focused on cementing his place in the side's engine room before entering into discussions on a new deal.

Berry became a revelation in 2022 when he led the AFL for tackles, but endured an injury-plagued campaign the following season and has struggled to solidify his spot in the team across the first half of this year.

The 22-year-old has played just nine games, but has either been the tactical substitute or been replaced midway through the match in seven of those appearances.

Speaking on AFL.com.au's trade and draft show Gettable last week, Berry's agent Tom Seccull from Hemisphere Management Group said he had been clear with the Crows that the youngster would spend the season focused entirely on his football before beginning talks on a fresh deal.

"'Bez' has had a mixed first couple of years, I guess you'd say," Seccull said.

Sam Berry marks the ball during the R12 match between Adelaide and Hawthorn at the MCG on June 1, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"His second year, he was top 10 in their best and fairest and played 17 or 18 games and was leading the AFL for tackles. The next year, he only managed four or five games. There was a change-up in the midfield with Matt Crouch coming back in and Jordan Dawson as well.

"This year, we'd said from the start that Sam was probably just going to play the year and see how it goes and where he fits in and everything. That hasn't changed.

"We've been in constant dialogue with [Adelaide list manager] Justin Reid going through where he sits. They're really happy with how he's progressing and can see a future there. It's just a matter of timing for Sam. We'll go through that a bit later on." – Riley Beveridge


RECRUITERS are eyeing Gippsland Power backman Alix Tauru as one of the leading key-position defenders in the draft pool after an exciting return from injury. 

Tauru has burst back onto the scene at Coates Talent League level after a hip injury earlier in the season in Vic Country's trial.

DRAFT HUB Click here for the latest draft news

But after a stellar two weeks for the Power, he has been brought into Vic Country's team to face Western Australia on Saturday in Perth, with Tauru's marking, competitiveness, intercept ability and aggression taking the eye for scouts.

He had 17 disposals and eight marks against the Geelong Falcons last week and 23 disposals and nine marks the previous week. 

The 193cm prospect has shown in his juniors he can also be used as a forward on occasion, with clubs scouring the market for tall options at both ends of the ground. – Callum Twomey  

Alix Tauru of Gippsland Power in action during the Coates Talent League Boys Testing at Narrandjeri Stadium on March 9, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos


CLUBS are expecting to road test the new draft value index in coming weeks after the AFL's day of consulting with list and football bosses on Tuesday.

The AFL is currently working through the finer elements of its new draft value index, which will likely see new points values attached to the first 54 selections of the draft, down from 73 in the current system.

DRAFT OVERHAUL? Bidding system could be revamped

The index has been untouched in points value since its introduction in 2015 but is set to be more condensed and top-heavy in its new iteration, with early picks having a better value and later picks having less.

It is all part of the AFL's plan to make clubs pay a fairer price for father-son and Academy players in the new bidding system, which remains unclear if it will be introduced at all this year or there will be a transitional period until it fully is introduced in 2025. 

The League hopes the scenario-based testing of the new points system in coming weeks will be able to work through any chinks before it comes in. – Callum Twomey