Bachar Houli will play in his third Toyota AFL Grand Final this week in the Tigers' clash with Geelong. Picture: AFL Photos

RICHMOND'S two-time premiership star Bachar Houli admits he was surprised by Essendon's interest in luring him back to the Bombers.

But the gun defender said he was keen to remain in the yellow and black despite his wait for a contract offer from the club.

Houli, who is shooting for his third flag victory in Saturday night's Grand Final against Geelong, remains out of contract at the end of this season.

WHO'S MOVING? All the latest trade and contract news revealed in September he had drawn the interest of the Bombers, where he left at the end of 2010 after 26 games in four seasons.


He has since become a Tigers great, finishing second in the Norm Smith Medal in 2017 and 2019, and the important left footer said the Bombers' pursuit came as a shock.

"It was a surprise being 32 years old and why would a club want to reinvest in a player who was there many years ago? But I don't know how far that went to be quite honest," he told

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"I didn't really dwell or dive too much into that. I think that's on the side now."

I've got something far greater than just a playing contract at the football club and that's the foundation

- Bachar Houli

The Tigers have held off recontracting a number of their players as they sought clarity on list sizes and the salary cap for 2021, but have recently sewn up deals for ruckman Toby Nankervis and midfielders Jack Graham and Riley Collier-Dawkins.

Houli said he wanted to stay at Richmond, where he has strong links with his off-field work in the community with the Bachar Houli Foundation.

"As long as there's a contract there, an offer, I won't be going anywhere else to be quite honest," he said.

"I've got something far greater than just a playing contract at the football club and that's the foundation and the work we've done together with Richmond Football Club and the AFL to establish the foundation.


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"Hopefully there's a contract post-Grand Final, maybe before Grand Final, but it's been a funny year. I'm going to wait patiently and hopefully there's an offer there in the short-term."

Houli has had an interrupted season with the Tigers, missing eight weeks in the middle of the season as he stayed in Melbourne to be with family and joining Richmond's Gold Coast hub in the middle of August.

But the 219-gamer's form has been excellent since his return to the Tigers' defence and Houli was one of the Tigers' best in their semi-final win over St Kilda with 32 disposals.


He said the prize of becoming a three-time premiership player hadn't taken his mind off the task of overcoming Geelong at the Gabba.

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"Honestly I haven't really thought about it as such. Maybe because the build up is not there and there hasn’t been the huge hype but at the end of the day if you're thinking about that you're thinking about outcome and that's not what we do," he said.

"We think about the process and what it takes to give ourselves the best possible chance to be victorious on the night."