Tyson Stengle celebrates one of his four goals in Geelong's clash with Port Adelaide in round nine, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

TYSON Stengle had changed AFL clubs twice before. He knew the challenges of starting afresh, making new relationships, finding his place. 

Above all, he had everything he needed at Geelong, was happy, could see himself growing into more of a leader at the Cats and knew what the club had done for him, too, since re-entering the fold at the end of 2021. Another switch, as he contemplated his future with his career-defining contract decision, wasn't something that enticed him.

Stengle, as revealed by AFL.com.au last week, re-signed with Geelong for five more years through to the end of 2029. It came after hot interest in the unrestricted free agent, including from St Kilda, having held off getting into his contract call until after Geelong's round 14 bye. 

But the factors behind his decision to stay at the Cats, where he has played 59 games and kicked 111 goals, were clear.

"They obviously gave me a lifeline back in 2022 so I really wanted to stay. That was my preference so to get it done I was more than happy," Stengle told AFL.com.au.

"I waited most of the year and wanted to let my footy do the talking. I just focused on playing good footy and let my manager do all the other work behind the scenes. I wanted to go out and play footy and luckily enough have been able to play good footy for most of the year. 


"I have a good connection with the whole playing group. They made my decision a bit easier to stay. Obviously going to a whole new club you have to make new friends and get used to the new environment which is a bit uncomfortable for me so I felt comfortable staying here with friends I've already got. Staying down here with the playing group where I already know everyone [was important], they respect me and I respect them."

Stengle's was one of the most unique contract decisions of 2024. Having already been at Richmond and then Adelaide, Stengle was delisted by the Crows in early 2021 before returning to dominate at Woodville-West Torrens in the SANFL. 

Months later, he joined the Cats as a delisted free agent as he fought for his career. But he did more than that, kicking 53 goals in 2022, winning an All-Australian jumper and booting four goals in a blistering Grand Final win over Sydney.

Tyson Stengle celebrates with fans after the Grand Final between Geelong and Sydney at the MCG on September 24, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

As a 25-year-old premiership player on track for a second All-Australian guernsey, Stengle's deal this year shaped as his career-maker. Another layer was that it was negotiated by his newly appointed manager Anna Scullie, wife of Eddie Betts, with the pair pivotal in Stengle's life. 

Stengle said the speculation on his future didn't distract him, with the talented small forward booting 31 goals from 15 games so far this season. 

"I didn't really mind it. I was focusing on what I could do and what I could control. I didn't really think about it too much," he said.


"I just wanted to go out and play footy. I know a lot of people were talking about it, but I just wanted to focus in on what I could do for the team. I didn't really go on social media or look at it so I was just focusing on myself and my team and going out to win the game. 

"It was just about working through it and I'm glad to be staying here and that I got it done. I wanted to stay here for the rest of my career, it was just about getting it done which took a little bit of time. I'm more than happy and I love it around here."

Speaking with Saints coach Ross Lyon was part of his decision-making, but Stengle's mind wasn't shifted, with him leaning on Betts and Scullie throughout. 

"It was an interesting process and there were a few things going on with that, but I left my managers handle that and focused on what I could do out on the field," he said.

"I leant on them a lot. I'm always down there and around there but they give me the best advice that they can and they helped me make the decision as well to stay down there."

The moment gave Stengle time to take pause on his career trajectory, too. Off-field behaviour caused his exit at the Crows, but he said all his clubs had helped build his story as he set his sights on the next phase of his career. 

Tyson Stengle celebrates a goal during the R11 match between Adelaide and Collingwood at Adelaide Oval on August 11, 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

"I'm very grateful to Geelong and grateful to other teams as well. It's been a long journey coming from being a rookie at Richmond then to Adelaide and from SANFL to here. I had a good hard long reflection on it the other day when I signed with Geelong. It's been a long journey but I'm very proud and grateful for the opportunity," he said. 

"Off-field I want to become a better leader, better senior player, and on-field I want to go out there and get the win each week for the supporters and us and hopefully we can get that trophy at the end of the year for most of those years. 

"That's the main goal, so we'll see what happens. I'm really looking forward to the next five years, we have good young players coming through so we'll see how we go."

Tyson Stengle hugs Tanner Bruhn during the R4 match between Geelong and Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval on April 6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Stengle kicked three goals in last week's win over Essendon as Geelong found its groove after losing six of its previous seven games. On Saturday, the Cats host the in-form Hawks at GMHBA Stadium as the ladder tightens, with Stengle remaining confident on the Cats' credentials.

"Obviously we think we can win it again. We're just taking it week by week and hopefully we can go all the way. That's our ambitions," he said.

"That feeling is amazing so we really want that feeling again, so we're going to be coming. We'll see how we go over the next few weeks."