BRISBANE has applied to the AFL to retain key defender Matt Eagles – 2016 winner of reality TV show The Recruit – as a Category B rookie for a fourth season next year.

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League rules typically permit clubs to keep players as Category B rookies for a maximum of three years, but the Lions believe Eagles' path to the AFL makes him an exceptional case.

The 29-year-old has exceeded all expectations since graduating from the Fox Footy program.

Eagles made his AFL debut against Collingwood in round seven last year. Picture: AFL Photos

Eagles firstly impressed enough to extend his AFL journey beyond the 2017 season, including a starring role in Brisbane's NEAFL Grand Final triumph over Sydney that year.

He then broke into the senior side for four games last year and subsequently earned another one-year deal for 2019.

Eagles has found it tougher going this season, with Brisbane enjoying one of the competition's best injury runs, but his form has remained strong at NEAFL level.

However, he is popular at the club and the Lions are keen to re-sign him.

It is unclear what Brisbane will do if the AFL rejects its application to extend his tenure as a Category B rookie. contacted the AFL about the Lions' application and received this response: "We do not comment on individual player contracts or TPP (Total Player Payments) matters."

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