GREATER Western Sydney has given Dylan Shiel permission to meet with opposition clubs ahead of next month's NAB AFL Trade Period as the expansion club continues to explore ways to ease its salary cap squeeze.
Shiel, who is contracted to GWS for next season, is being heavily pursued by a number of Melbourne-based clubs, with Hawthorn, St Kilda and Carlton understood to lead the race for the explosive onballer's services.
Teammate Rory Lobb, who is also tied to the Giants for next season, met with West Coast officials in Perth on Tuesday and he's expected to sit down with Fremantle over the next few days.
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Giants' list manager Jason McCartney confirmed on Wednesday that the club was aware of Lobb's catch-up with the Eagles, and Shiel is likely to meet with a number of Victorian clubs before next month's NAB AFL Trade Period.
"Those couple of boys are out there gathering information and will be catching up with some clubs, as we work through some things that we need to (work through)," he said.
"But while those conversations are happening with other clubs, we're also in constant communication with those players and their managers about what 2019 looks like at the Giants.
"The majority of our group is contracted through season 2019 and beyond, so we're in a really good situation there.
"We've had a number of good chats with our players this year and they continued when we wrapped up our exit interviews last week.
"There's a bit to work through and it's always an interesting time (of the year)."
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Along with Shiel and Lobb, Will Setterfield and Jeremy Finlayson are contracted Giants who could be on the move in the Trade Period.
Former Sandringham Dragon Setterfield has been linked to Essendon and, to a lesser extent, Carlton, while GWS has encouraged Finlayson to explore options at rival clubs despite an encouraging 2018 season.
It's unlikely the Giants will part with all of these players in the Trade Period, but they appear prepared to canvass a number of options with the dual aim of balancing their bulging salary cap while maintaining a strong list that can contend again in 2019.
GWS will also be mindful that for the first time some of its players will become eligible for free agency in 2019. Shiel will be in this position if he stays, along with vice-captain Stephen Coniglio, Nick Haynes, Matt Buntine and Adam Tomlinson.
Star midfielder Josh Kelly is also set to come out of contract at the end of next season – although he won't be eligible for free agency after six years' service – and will again attract attract multi-million-dollar offers from Victorian clubs.
Lobb, Jacob Hopper and Harry Himmelberg head the other Giants due to come out of contract in 2019.
Despite the mounting speculation around the Giants, McCartney stressed the club was still considering its options ahead of the trade period.
"Our focus is managing our interests in the short and long-term, and our priority is to win a premiership," he said.
"We're really confident that we have the group to do that, but we also understand the other side of it.
"Rory comes out of contract next year and Dylan becomes a free agent, so the (level of) compensation (we receive if he leaves) is taken out of our hands and rests with the AFL.
"So you're weighing up a number of things, but there's a lot of water to go under the bridge."