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Ruck merry-go-round set to spin again

Sam Jacobs might be able to tell Scott Lycett a thing or two about switching clubs if he decides to leave the Eagles - AFL,Trade,Adelaide Crows,Brisbane Lions,Carlton Blues,Collingwood Magpies,Essendon Bombers,Fremantle Dockers,Geelong Cats,Gold Coast Suns,GWS Giants,Hawthorn Hawks,Melbourne Demons,North Melbourne Kangaroos,Port Adelaide Power,Richmond Tigers,St Kilda Saints,Sydney Swans,West Coast Eagles,Western Bulldogs
Sam Jacobs might be able to tell Scott Lycett a thing or two about switching clubs if he decides to leave the Eagles

THIS year the annual ruck merry-go-round is expected to kick back into gear after a strangely quiet 2017.

Matthew Lobbe was the only ruckman to change clubs in last year's player exchange period, moving from Port Adelaide to Carlton.

But ruck recycling was far more fashionable in the previous four years when 23 players moved via trades, free agency, delisted free agency and the rookie draft.

Club list managers and recruiters expect a similar high volume of ruckmen to find new homes this year, with West Coast's restricted free agent Scott Lycett looming as the key domino.

Lycett's importance to the Eagles has skyrocketed since Nic Naitanui underwent a knee reconstruction that's set to sideline him for much of next season.

But the 25-year-old South Australian is being heavily courted by clubs including Port Adelaide and St Kilda, with many industry sources expecting the Power's bid for the former SANFL Magpie will be successful.

If Lycett does leave West Coast, the Eagles will desperately need to find support for Nathan Vardy until Naitanui is ready to resume.

Western Bulldog Jordan Roughead is one opposition player the Eagles are believed to be considering if that scenario eventuates, with the restricted free agent widely expected to be at a new home in 2019.

But Roughead is far from the only option West Coast could explore.

Roughead has been mooted as a possible replacement if Lycett departs the Eagles. Picture: AFL Photos

Experienced ruckmen such as Saint Billy Longer, Essendon free agent Matthew Leuenberger and Bulldog Tom Campbell remain out of contract, as does Saints rookie Lewis Pierce, who has shown promise since earning a recall for the past two games.

The Eagles' cause would also be helped by the fact most clubs now elect to play one genuine ruckman, which has meant understudy ruckmen are now starved of opportunities to the same extent as understudy wicketkeepers in cricket.

And where hungry keepers regularly move states in search of more opportunity, ruckmen are also inclined to at least explore their chances of stepping into No.1 ruck roles at other clubs.

Contracted ruckmen who could fall into this boat include North Melbourne's Braydon Preuss, Geelong's Zac Smith, Gold Coast's Tom Nicholls and, to a lesser extent, Hawk Jonathon Ceglar.

Lycett's decision will also affect St Kilda, where at least one of Longer, Pierce or the contracted Tom Hickey would be on the move if the Eagle landed at Moorabbin.

Sydney is another club that could be in the hunt for an experienced ruckman given Kurt Tippett's pre-season retirement and the fact Sam Naismith will be returning from a knee reconstruction in 2019.

Matthew Kreuzer's advancing age and Andrew Phillips' injury troubles could again convince Carlton to bolster its ruck division, Melbourne could look for more back-up for Max Gawn, while Greater Western Sydney has yet to bring in an experienced replacement for the retired Shane Mumford. 

The Giants might hold fire this year, content they already have enough ruck coverage with Rory Lobb, Dawson Simpson, who has opened talks with the club on a new deal, Matthew Flynn and likely Academy recruit Kieren Briggs.

However, Port, West Coast and St Kilda are highly unlikely to.

One of them will start this year's ruck merry-go-round spinning. It's just a matter of how many other clubs jump on for the ride.   

Ruck movement between clubs

2017 – 1: Matthew Lobbe (Port Adelaide to Carlton)

2016 – 4: Jarrod Witts (Collingwood to Gold Coast), Toby Nankervis (Sydney to Richmond), Nathan Vardy (Geelong to West Coast), Drew Petrie (North Melbourne to West Coast)

2015 – 8: Andrew Phillips (GWS to Carlton), Daniel Currie (North to Gold Coast), Jack Fitzpatrick (Melbourne to Hawthorn), Jonathon Giles (Essendon to West Coast), Daniel Gorringe (Gold Coast to Carlton), Matthew Leuenberger (Brisbane to Essendon), Callum Sinclair (West Coast to Sydney), Dawson Simpson (Geelong to GWS) 

2014 – 7: Luke Lowden (Hawthorn to Adelaide), Jonathon Giles (GWS to Essendon), Mitch Clark (Melbourne to Geelong), Rhys Stanley (St Kilda to Geelong), Paddy Ryder (Essendon to Port Adelaide), Tom Boyd (GWS to Western Bulldogs), Shaun McKernan (Adelaide to Essendon)

2013 - 5: Trent West (Geelong to Brisbane), Shane Mumford (Sydney to GWS), Ben McEvoy (St Kilda to Hawthorn), Shaun Hampson (Carlton to Richmond), Billy Longer (Brisbane to St Kilda)

Your club's recycled ruckmen

Adelaide: Sam Jacobs (Carlton)
Brisbane: Stefan Martin (Melbourne)
Carlton: Matthew Lobbe (Port Adelaide)
Collingwood: Nil
Essendon: Matthew Leuenberger (Brisbane)
Fremantle: Nil
Geelong: Rhys Stanley (St Kilda), Zac Smith (Gold Coast) 
Gold Coast: Jarrod Witts (Collingwood)
Greater Western Sydney: Dawson Simpson (Geelong)
Hawthorn: Ben McEvoy (St Kilda), Jon Ceglar (Collingwood)
Melbourne: Nil
North Melbourne: Nil
Port Adelaide: Paddy Ryder (Essendon)
Richmond: Toby Nankervis (Sydney)
St Kilda: Tom Hickey (Gold Coast), Billy Longer (GWS)
Sydney: Callum Sinclair (West Coast)
West Coast: Nathan Vardy (Geelong)
Western Bulldogs: Tom Boyd (GWS)