THE RUCK merry-go-round is ready to ramp up for another year, but Fremantle has moved to ensure talented big man Sean Darcy is going nowhere.
The in-form big man is contracted to the end of 2022 but continually gets linked to Geelong, however AFL.com.au understands talks have started to extend his deal at the Dockers beyond the end of next year.
Darcy, 23, has had an impressive season with the Dockers and is keen to add to his current deal and remain in the west.
Despite seven young rucks being taken in this month's NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft, clubs are still expected to scour the trade and free agency market at the end of the year for readymade rucks searching for opportunities elsewhere.
Richmond's Mabior Chol is at the top of the list for many list managers, with the talented big man attracting interest after being in and out of the Tigers' juggernaut in the past few seasons.
Chol is unlikely to make a decision on his future until later in the season, with his young teammate Callum Coleman-Jones also having many suitors, including Gold Coast, as a forward/ruck.
Geelong has a pair of ruckmen out of contract at the end of this season, with first-choice big man Rhys Stanley's one-year extension due to expire and Esava Ratugolea's three-year contract coming to an end, while Darcy Fort looms as an option for clubs as he dominates at VFL level. Fort is contracted to the end of 2022.
Clubs had been monitoring Hawthorn big man Jon Ceglar at VFL level before his return to the senior side last Friday, when he starred with 20 disposals, 35 hitouts and a goal in the Hawks' surprise win over Sydney. Ceglar was on Brisbane's radar in 2019 before he penned a new deal with the Hawks, which stretches to the end of 2022.
The Swans were keen on Port Adelaide big man Peter Ladhams last season and have recently lost Sam Naismith to another anterior cruciate ligament injury that is likely to rule him out of action in 2022.
Ladhams (2022) and the yet-to-debut Sam Hayes (2023) are signed at Port Adelaide beyond this season but will continue to be targeted by rivals given they present as players who can step into the top level and perform and with Scott Lycett holding down the No.1 ruck position at Alberton.
Swans big man Callum Sinclair is out of contract at the end of the year, as is Paddy Ryder at St Kilda, who is keen to add another a third season to his time with the Saints.
Collingwood duo Mason Cox and Max Lynch are also out of contract, with the 22-year-old Lynch impressing in Monday's win over Melbourne as a replacement for injured star Brodie Grundy.
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Also at the younger end, Lloyd Meek has played four games for the Dockers this season and done well and is without a deal for next year, while Giants ruck Matt Flynn broke through for his long-awaited debut earlier this season and has played eight games so far.
Among the other rucks who are without contracts for next year are Marc Pittonet (Carlton), Tom Campbell (North Melbourne) and Andrew Phillips (Essendon).
Stef Martin (Western Bulldogs), Tom Hickey (Sydney), Braydon Preuss (Greater Western Sydney), Peter Wright (Essendon) and Shaun McKernan (St Kilda) joined new clubs through either trades or free agency last off-season, with eight ruckmen changing clubs at the end of 2019 as clubs showed a preference to buy in experienced options rather than use selections at the national draft on young talls.