FIVE years on from Jaeger O'Meara's much discussed, debated and drawn-out move from Gold Coast to Hawthorn, it is St Kilda that has emerged as the biggest winner from a complex and controversial deal.

On Saturday, the Hawks and Saints will lock horns at Marvel Stadium, but it was the Saints who played a key role in ensuring O'Meara would be on their opponent's list, even if on this occasion he has been ruled out for the clash with general soreness.

The Suns' strong demands for their injury-hit young star meant that Hawthorn had to find a way to satisfy their desire for a top-10 pick. But the Hawks had to go the long way around to get it.

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They did a deal with the Saints early in that year's trade period that saw them hand over picks 23 and 36 in that year's NAB AFL Draft and a future first-round pick for the 2017 intake. In exchange, the Hawks received pick 10 and 68 for 2016.

The Saints used those selections to take Ben Long (which turned into No.25 after bidding) and Josh Battle (No.38) that year, while the future pick was spent on Hunter Clark (No.7) the following season.

Clark, already one of the Saints' best players in his fourth season, is the ace of this deal for St Kilda and is a future star of the competition. Battle has also established himself as a versatile tall at both ends of the ground, while Long, too, has shown moments of brilliance. 

Hunter Clark and Brett Ratten celebrate St Kilda's win over Western Bulldogs in an elimination final in 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

The pick 68 the Hawks got in the deal became tied to a trade involving Jordan Lewis and Melbourne. 

The Hawks still had work to do to get O'Meara over the line after that, though, to appease the Suns' asking price of a first-round and future second-round pick. As they had already traded away their future first-round selection, under AFL rules they weren't able to trade their own 2017 second-round selection until they had brought in another one. 

So with 90 minutes remaining before the trade deadline, Hawthorn started to negotiate a future second-round selection from Carlton in exchange for handing over picks 48, 66 and 70 in that year's draft. 

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The Blues, who later used the picks on Harrison Macreadie, Tom Williamson and Pat Kerr, were the last chip in getting O'Meara to Hawthorn because the Hawks then sent their own future second-round pick to Gold Coast, along with the pick No.10 they had attained from St Kilda.

At the NAB AFL Draft the following month, the Suns used the selection to match a bid on local Academy product Jack Bowes, who has become an important member of Gold Coast's list build and shapes as a future leader of the club.

The second-round pick they got out of the O'Meara move became tangled in a pick swaps deal with West Coast.

Jaeger O'Meara in his first season at Gold Coast in 2013. Picture: AFL Photos

O'Meara managed six games in his first year with Hawthorn as he overcame the debilitating knee injury from his time at the Suns. He played 21 games in the 2018-19 seasons, finishing third in the Hawks' best and fairest in 2019. This season he has been among the Hawks' best, averaging 28 disposals a game – putting him 13th in the AFL. 

The club still has to manage his body closely, as seen by his resting after a six-day turnaround this weekend. 

His recruitment has added a steady hand for Hawthorn's midfield in an era of change and list turnover, however it is Clark at St Kilda who looks the ace of this mega transaction.