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Are your over-30s over the hill? Who plays on, who goes

AFL.com.au reporters take a look at your club's veterans - AFL,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,News
AFL.com.au reporters take a look at your club's veterans

The Crows are still in the premiership window, but with seven players over the age of 30, they are going to have to carefully manage the age profile of the list to ensure a lot of players don't leave at the same time. 

Eddie Betts
The champion small forward has been down on his best but has still kicked 26 goals in 15 games. Turns 33 in November and is contracted for 2020. STAY

NINE THINGS WE LEARNED Is the Eddie Betts show on its last legs?

Richard Douglas
The 242-game veteran missed 10 weeks with an ankle injury and has struggled to make an impact as a half-forward. Will be 33 before next season. GO

Bryce Gibbs
The 30-year-old hasn't been able to hold down a regular spot this season but it's hard to see a rival club taking on the remaining two years of Gibbs' lucrative contract. STAY

Gibbs has been dropped four times in season 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

Sam Jacobs
Has fallen behind Reilly O'Brien as the club's leading ruckman. Jacobs, 31, provides depth but whether he is offered a new contract may depend on if the Crows get Brodie Grundy. STAY

Josh Jenkins
The key forward regained his spot in the side ahead of youngster Elliott Himmelberg before a knee injury. Jenkins, 30, is contracted until the end of 2021. STAY

David Mackay
The utility has probably done enough (averaging 17.2 disposals in 11 games) to earn a one-year extension. Mackay, who turns 31 this month, has something the Crows don't have a lot of – leg speed. STAY

Andy Otten
The popular clubman hasn't been able to crack the senior side this year. The 30-year-old provides defensive depth, but the Crows will probably look for a younger option. GO - Lee Gaskin

NINE THINGS WE LEARNED Is the Eddie Betts show on its last legs?

The Lions are just entering a window of premiership contention, so they'll be open to carrying a couple of older players who can still contribute – as long as they're not compromising the development of younger, longer-term players.

Luke Hodge
Still going strong at the age of 35, the four-time premiership player has missed just one game this season. Has already indicated this will be his last year, though. GO

This will almost certainly be the last year of a great career for Hodge. Picture: AFL Photos

Stefan Martin
Every week is important for the 32-year-old, but Martin has held off the challenge of understudy Archie Smith with strong form. Out of contract and providing he finishes strongly, deserves another year. STAY

Mitch Robinson
Recently turned 30, the kamikaze utility has played like a man on a one-year deal – with desperation. Robinson has played every game and been sensational in a variety of roles. He makes others walk taller when he plays. STAY

Dayne Zorko
The captain is going as strong as ever and should be pushing for an All Australian spot, averaging 22 disposals and leading the League in pressure acts and tackles inside 50. Zorko has two years remaining on his contract. STAY - Michael Whiting

Carlton has taken a bold rebuild strategy over the last five years, but is now in a position where it understands it needs some mature bodies and experienced heads at the club. Don't expect a significant clear out of veteran Blues at season's end.

Kade Simpson
Carlton will likely allow Simpson to make a call on his future, given his services to the club over the last 17 years. At his best, he remains an integral part of the Blues’ backline, but at 35, there's a distinct possibility he calls time on his career. GO

Dale Thomas
'Daisy' has rewritten the narrative of the legacy he will leave at Carlton, having produced a strong finish to his career. He's uncontracted, but is good enough to go around again. STAY

Marc Murphy
Still a key member of Carlton's midfield and is contracted for 2020. STAY

Matthew Lobbe
Stuck behind Matthew Kreuzer and Andrew Phillips in the pecking order at Carlton, having only managed eight games in two years. Likely to miss out on a new deal. GO

Matthew Kreuzer
Remains one of the club's most important senior members when he's up and going. He's also having a good run with injury. He'll sign a new one-year deal soon. STAY - Riley Beveridge

Will the Blues' veterans stay or go? Picture: AFL Photos

It's difficult to see the Magpies retaining any more than three of their eight over-30s. Captain Scott Pendlebury can almost write his own ticket, while defensive role players Chris Mayne and Levi Greenwood should be rewarded. A combination of injury and form issues might well claim the rest. 

Lynden Dunn
In March, the highly valued fullback and leader suffered a second knee reconstruction in the space of just nine months, so his chances of being awarded another contract at 32 are slim. GO 

Tyson Goldsack
The flexible 32-year-old is yet to play an AFL game this year and has battled a couple of niggles in recent weeks, but still dreams about a last hurrah in the finals. GO 

Levi Greenwood
The one-time tagger has been recast as a defender and made a reasonable fist of it, being far from the Pies' worst performer during their form slump. The 30-year-old remains one of the club's hardest trainers. STAY 

Chris Mayne
The former forward, 30, continues to thrive as a role-playing runner. Missed three early games with a back fracture but has been a crucial component of the Pies' team defence. STAY 

BARRETT Weight of expectation could crush Pies' dreams

Scott Pendlebury
The Pies' brilliant skipper will go close to winning his sixth club best and fairest and, at 31, seems to have at least another couple of quality seasons left in him. STAY 

Ben Reid
The swingman won a spot in attack in round seven and played five successive games before losing his place to Mason Cox. Returned in round 14 to kick three goals before suffering yet another calf injury the following week. GO 

 

Travis Varcoe
The aggressive speedster, 31, has endured an eventful season. He has generally battled for form in 10 games, been dropped three times and also served a one-game suspension. GO 

Daniel Wells
On return from a serious foot injury in the round 10 win over Sydney, the unlucky star kicked three first-half goals before suffering a potentially season-ending knee injury. Has managed just 15 games in three seasons as a Magpie. GO - Ben Collins

 

The Bombers have a good age profile, having targeted players in the mid-20s age bracket in recent off-seasons. They don't have many veterans who are reaching the ends of their careers, but key-position players Michael Hurley, Shaun McKernan and Mitch Brown all hit 30 next year so they have to start planning ahead in those spots for talls. 

Mark Baguley
Baguley gained a reprieve at the end of last year when he was retained on the club's list despite earlier being delisted. Has continued to perform well at VFL level but is now a back-up small forward option. GO

Tom Bellchambers
A calf injury in round 15 sees Bellchambers sidelined, but the veteran big man had shouldered the club's ruck division for the year and done a good job. He is contracted to the end of next year. STAY

David Myers
Myers went to the club and omitted himself after the Bombers' round eight loss to Sydney, and despite strong form at VFL level, has not been seen at senior level since. Is out of contract and would likely be weighing up retirement. GO 

Will Myers hang up the boots? Picture: AFL Photos

Cale Hooker
The key defender is signed for another two years at the club, through to the end of 2021. He will be nearly 33 by the time that deal expires. Remains a vital player for Essendon who can be used at both ends of the ground. STAY - Callum Twomey

 

The Dockers have managed the exits of many experienced campaigners since plunging into a rebuild three years ago and will almost certainly wave goodbye to a couple of favourite sons now the list has stabilised around a younger core group. 

Hayden Ballantyne
You can understand the Dockers' reasons for keeping Ballantyne on a one-year deal for experience and leadership, but after straining a hamstring in round one he hasn't been sighted again. He turns 32 next week and the time is coming for the popular small forward to hang up the boots. GO 

David Mundy
Was in vintage form as he passed the 300-game mark, but a long season thrust back into the midfield battle could be catching up with the soon-to-be 34-year-old. Still has plenty to offer next year and is keen to play on as long as he is contributing. STAY 

 

Aaron Sandilands
Many thought the 36-year-old wouldn't be seen again after repeat calf issues, but Sandilands defied expectations and played his first game in more than 12 months in the Western Derby. It was just his 27th game in four years, though, and the curtain will come down for one of Freo's greatest later this season. GO - Travis King

Fremantle, and the game itself, will have a huge hole to fill when Sandilands finally retires. Picture: AFL Photos

Still firmly in premiership contention so if a veteran can assist in the pursuit of a flag for 2020, then they'll be retained. With only four players over 30, it may make the club's decisions easier.

Gary Ablett
Contract talks are scheduled for September. If he wishes to go on, his form in 2019 indicates he'll be offered a one-year extension. STAY

 

Joel Selwood
Committed until 2021, a year he could break Stephen Kernahan's record for most games captained (226). After a modified pre-season this year, expect more of the same ahead of 2020. STAY

Harry Taylor
Has got his body back to allowing him to be a first-choice defender each week. While both parties are comfortable for a decision to come later in the year, would expect to receive an offer if his current form stacks up. Starting his career as a 21-year-old should also work in his favour. STAY

Tom Hawkins
Contracted until the end of 2020 and has enjoyed a superb season. Should his form continue, would expect to be pushing for an extension into 2021. STAY - Mitch Cleary

 

The Suns are in a total rebuild. While the bulk of their list needs to be comprised mostly of players 22 and under, mixed with a smattering of 25- to 27-year-olds, they also need the odd older head to offer experience on and off the field.

Pearce Hanley
The vice-captain has had a shocking run with injuries since coming to the Suns. He's played nine games this season and is out of contract. Hanley still offers so much when he's fit. STAY

Jarrod Harbrow
About to turn 31, the rebounding defender shows little sign of slowing down. Harbrow has missed just one game this year and is contracted for another season. STAY 

Michael Rischitelli
Time is winding down on his career. Now 33, Rischitelli has spent the season in the NEAFL where his leadership for the club's younger players has been invaluable. GO - Michael Whiting 

Michael Rischitelli is yet to be seen at AFL level this season. Picture: AFL Photos

The Giants aren't flush with veterans so there’s no hurry to get their experienced players out the door, especially when they're still playing decent footy. With more top picks coming into the club for next season, the old brigade is vital. 

Brett Deledio
Two months ago there was little chance, and while he must stay healthy for the rest of the season and maintain his form, Deledio deserves a new one-season deal. STAY 

Shane Mumford
The risk has paid off so far for the Giants, and while Mumford's body needs plenty of maintenance, he's still an integral part of the side. STAY 

Heath Shaw
He's had some shaky moments, but Shaw remains an important member of the backline, and there aren't any younger options beating down the door for his spot. STAY 

Dawson Simpson
The Giants might be 50/50 on the ruckman given Matt Flynn's recent form, but as long as Mumford goes on, they need Simpson on standby as a back-up. STAY – Adam Curley

Hawthorn has reached a defining point of its list management strategy. With 10 players over 30 at season's end, it must decide whether to regenerate through the draft or attempt to make another tilt at a flag. Strap in for an interesting off-season at Waverley Park. 

Shaun Burgoyne
Currently the oldest player in the AFL, Burgoyne is set to turn 37 in October. He remains an influential member of this Hawthorn team, so might earn another deal, but retirement looks the more likely option. GO

Jarryd Roughead
No longer in Hawthorn's best team, Roughead's decision might be made for him at season's end. It's more than likely he retires, or heads elsewhere, at season's end. GO

Jarryd Roughead has been a great servant of the game. Picture: AFL Photos

Paul Puopolo
Was made to wait until September before signing a one-year contract extension last season. Set to turn 32 later this year, don't be surprised if he calls time on his career. GO

Grant Birchall
Injury has ruined the latter stages of Birchall's career. He's managed just five games in nearly three years, but is finally on the verge of returning. At 31, he's reaching the twilight stages of his career, but he might want one more season. STAY

Ricky Henderson
He'll be 31 by season's end, but Henderson is playing the best footy of his career. He's averaging more than 25 disposals per game and he's bound to re-sign soon. STAY

 

James Frawley
The key defender will be 31 by season's end, but has retained his place in Hawthorn's side for most of the year and still looks a important part of the backline. The Hawks might need his experience in defence for another season. STAY

Tim Mohr
A devastating knee injury suffered in March, which saw Mohr tear both his ACL and his PCL in the same incident, will likely mean the end of his career. GO

Isaac Smith
Smith's name has come up in trade discussions recently, but he remains contracted for 2020. He has laughed off reports he's looking to leave and should remain at the Hawks for another season. STAY

Ben Stratton
He's Hawthorn's captain and he's contracted for 2020. He's not going anywhere. STAY

Ben McEvoy
Has returned to All Australian form this season and recently signed a one-year contract extension taking him through until 2020. He'll be at the Hawks next season. STAY - Riley Beveridge 

James Frawley, Ben McEvoy and Ben Stratton are all likely to remain at Hawthorn. Picture: AFL Photos

Despite a dreadful 2019, Melbourne should still see itself as being a premiership contender in the short-term future. The core group consists of players who are relatively young or in their prime, which means there isn't a great reliance on the club's over-30s group.

Jeff Garlett
Shoulder surgery in July ended the small forward's year after seven matches and that will likely end his career. Booted at least 40 goals in two of his first three seasons at the Demons but hasn't hit that level since. Turns 30 in August. GO 

Nathan Jones
There's been a dip in the 31-year-old's form but he's performing well enough to warrant another season. What he offers from a leadership and experience perspective is important too. Has lined up in every game this campaign. STAY 

 

Jordan Lewis
It's been a great career for the four-time premiership Hawk, but his five AFL games doesn't far exceed his three in the VFL. That doesn't bode well for the 33-year-old. GO - Dinny Navaratnam

The club's youth are receiving more opportunities, and the results are spectacular so far. The midfield and forward line are thriving because of that, but a huge decision awaits on Todd Goldstein. The Roos are skinny in the ruck behind him and would need to recruit a replacement if he goes.

Todd Goldstein
The unrestricted free agent has suitors, including St Kilda, and is a quality ruckman, but turns 32 mid-next year, so it might be mutually beneficial to part ways. GO

There will likely be AFL options for Todd Goldstein if he's let go by the Roos. Picture: AFL Photos

Shaun Higgins
North's most recent All Australian, who is contracted until the end of 2020, remains a star and may have currency elsewhere, but he still has a big role to play at Arden St. STAY

Robbie Tarrant
Has arguably never played better than this season and is the bedrock of North Melbourne's defence. Contracted for two more years and isn't going anywhere. STAY

Scott Thompson
The oldest Roo at 33 but continues to perform well and his ability to play on smalls and talls adds to his value. A nervous wait ahead.  STAY – Marc McGowan

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The Power can afford to keep a few older players on their list given the number of youngsters they have blooded in the past couple of seasons. They've got the potential to challenge for a premiership.

Travis Boak
The former skipper is in All Australian form having moved back to the midfield and relinquishing the captaincy. Boak, who turns 31 in August, is contracted for 2020. STAY

Robbie Gray
Another easy call to make. Like Boak, the 31-year-old Gray is playing great football and just won a record fifth Showdown Medal. Is contracted for 2020. STAY

 

Paddy Ryder
The 31-year-old ruckman may be on the move given the success of Scott Lycett as a standalone ruck. Ryder – who is off-contract - should find another home. GO 

Justin Westhoff
The durable utility was dropped a couple of weeks ago but returned with a strong Showdown performance. Turns 33 in October so it's a tough call, but still provides value for a club in the premiership window. STAY – Lee Gaskin

FANTASY FORM WATCH The Pig delivers again on tough week for coaches

Despite some injury hiccups earlier this year, Richmond is still in the premiership window and is unlikely to be looking to move on any of its senior players. Alex Rance also just falls out of this window; he will turn 30 in October. 

Shane Edwards
Still in strong form and his versatility has been very important to the Tigers this year. Also showed strong leadership by captaining the club for several weeks. STAY

 

Shaun Grigg
Retired in May with a knee injury, allowing Richmond to take a pick into the mid-season draft. GO

Bachar Houli
Out of contract at the end of the season but is hoping to sign a new deal in the coming months. Has been in sparkling touch off half-back. STAY

Jack Riewoldt
Has had the worst injury run of his career this year but is still a vital part of the Tigers' line up for the next few years. STAY – Sarah Black

THE RUN HOME Are there shades of 2017 about these Tigers?

Alan Richardson is at long odds to be coaching the Saints next year, so whoever takes over will probably want to put their own imprint on the club. Plenty of work needs to be done to improve the list – the midfield needs help and field kicking is a major deficiency.  

David Armitage
Back and groin issues have cut the tough onballer down sooner than most expected after a career-best 2015 when he was a genuine star. Has spent most of the season in the VFL. GO  

Nathan Brown
Proved an astute acquisition when recruited as a restricted free agent at the end of 2016 from Collingwood but has been dropped twice this season. Josh Battle has been huge down back while Oscar Clavarino and Logan Austin are waiting in the wings as key defenders. GO 

Jarryn Geary
Injuries have ruined the backman's year and while the captain won't meet the games trigger in his contract to stay on, he's already reached an agreement with the Saints to play on in 2020. STAY 

 

Sam Rowe
Picked up in the supplemental selection period and has been named as an emergency over the past fortnight. Has done everything asked of him. The only real question is whether St Kilda gives him one more game, because Rowe has lined up in 99 matches throughout his career. GO - Dinny Navaratnam 

AROUND THE STATE LEAGUES Big Crow shines, tough Pie stats up

The Swans have blooded plenty of draftees over the past three years, and while they might miss the finals for the first time under John Longmire this season, that strategy has them in a strong position for the future. Need some veterans to show the way.

Lance Franklin
Two ordinary years with his body have been frustrating for the superstar forward, but even when half-fit he's one of the best in the game. STAY 

 

Heath Grundy
The key defender gave it another year, but it didn't pan out for him or the club. Played just one game before retiring after 256 games in May. GO 

Kieren Jack
The former captain hasn't had a great run with injury over the past two years and is no longer part of the Swans' best team. Currently playing in the NEAFL. GO 

Josh Kennedy
The co-captain is still one of the League's most productive inside midfielders and is contracted for next season. Experience vital for younger onballers. STAY 

Jarrad McVeigh
Another tough year with soft tissue injuries, but still as creative as ever off half-back when fit. Out of contract but is good enough to go on if he can get the body right. STAY 

Callum Sinclair
The ruckman has done a power of work as the sole big man over the past two seasons and will benefit from some help so he can rest forward more and ease the stress on his body. STAY 

Nick Smith
The durable small defender won't play a game this year after multiple hamstring surgeries and is out of contract, but deserves at least another season. No lockdown defenders pushing him out. STAY – Adam Curley

It's hard to fault the balance the Eagles have struck between retaining veterans while blooding youth since the start of last season. The onus is on the next generation to learn as much as they can from the experienced campaigners and, eventually, force them out. 

Shannon Hurn
Picked up his first All Australian blazer last year and the skipper is arguably in even better form in 2019. Has signed for next year and is a genuine chance to become West Coast's first 300-gamer in 2021. STAY 

Lewis Jetta
Probably hasn't received enough credit for his leadership of the Eagles' younger indigenous players, or his impact since moving to half-back last year. Out of contract, but the 30-year-old will be retained next year. STAY 

Josh Kennedy
You have to wonder what Kennedy goes through to get up to play each week, but the 31-year-old is a competitive beast and still so important. Is signed on for next year and has 30 goals from 13 appearances this season. STAY 

Chris Masten
A WAFL stint might have been the best thing for Masten, who played his best game of the season in the Western Derby. Unrewarded running on a wing is important in the Eagles system and the uncontracted 30-year-old can play a role in 2020. STAY 

Will Schofield
In a defence filled with stars, Schofield plays his role shutting down the opposition's damaging forwards and the out-of-contract 30-year-old could join the 200-game club next year. STAY – Travis King

Luke Beveridge has fielded the second-youngest team on average this season, with only Gold Coast younger. There is growing optimism around the latest crop of Bulldogs, but the likes of Tim English, Aaron Naughton and Bailey Smith need on-field guidance to help continue their development. 

Tory Dickson
The veteran forward is out of contract and turns 32 in Grand Final week. Despite playing 11 games in 2019 and putting together a solid month since an AFL recall from Footscray, it might be time to thank him for his services. GO 

 

Dale Morris
Suffering two knee injuries in two seasons at 36 years old should make it an easy decision – but this is Dale Morris. He's got through two VFL games and flagged his intent to go on next year. The Bulldogs would benefit from his presence. STAY 

Liam Picken
The 32-year-old called time on his 198-game career earlier this season due to ongoing concussion symptoms. He played every game in 2017 before a serious head injury in the 2018 JLT Community Series. GO 

Matt Suckling
There is still value in Suckling's penetrating left foot. The defender celebrates his 31st birthday in two weeks and should sign another one-year contract. STAY 

Easton Wood
The Bulldogs captain isn't going anywhere. He will be 30 in September, hasn't missed a game in 2019 and is contracted until the end of the 2020 season. STAY - Paul Bastin

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs