ST KILDA has alerted teams that it is keen to stockpile more picks at this year's NAB AFL Draft.
It's understood the Saints are determined to add to their draft hand during the Continental Tyres AFL Trade Period over the next month and are open to getting creative to secure additional selections.
The club currently holds picks No.9, 46 and 64, but would ideally like another choice in the early stages of the draft to invest in young talent after consecutive years without a top-25 selection.
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As reported by AFL.com.au on Monday, clubs – including Essendon – have registered an interest in contracted defender Ben Long. It's understood St Kilda would be open to trading the 24-year-old, should it receive a suitable offer.
That could help the Saints bolster their stocks with another top-40 pick, with the club hopeful of securing at least two selections before being forced to match bids on Next General Academy members Mitchito Owens and Marcus Windhager.
Owens is viewed by some clubs as a potential top-20 pick, meaning he would be ineligible to join St Kilda via its Academy program due to the AFL's new bidding rules, while Winghager is expected to fall just outside the first round.
However, the Saints would be reluctant to trade away a future first-round selection to return to this year's draft, with rival clubs of the belief they will instead retain 2022 picks for a potential play at Suns spearhead Ben King next year.
King – the brother of St Kilda star Max – is uncontracted beyond 2022, with speculation already mounting as to whether the talented 202cm forward will make a return to Victoria at the end of next season.
St Kilda hasn't used a top-end selection in two years, having started the 2019 draft at pick No.52 after trading for Dan Butler, Bradley Hill, Dougal Howard, Zak Jones and Paddy Ryder, and at pick No.26 last year after moving for Jack Higgins. – Riley Beveridge and Mitch Cleary
SUNS GIVEN DRAFT BONUS
GOLD Coast will be armed with one of the strongest draft hands ahead of the Trade Period after the AFL decided to allow the Suns to keep pick No.19.
The League last year banned the Suns from trading the 2021 end-of-first-round selection in any future pick swap as it assessed the club's direction.
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The pick was originally handed to the club at the end of 2019 as part of the AFL's concession package to help the struggling Suns, which included the No.1 pick to grab Matt Rowell that season, with the AFL able to review the allowances every year.
But the AFL has decided the Suns will hold the selection this year without any caveats or restrictions, meaning the club can either use it as part of any trade or take it to November's draft.
They will hold three selections inside the first 22 picks – No.3, 19 and 22 – with the Suns interested in either splitting their first pick for multiple early selections or even pushing up the board, having enquired about North Melbourne's pick No.1.
The confirmation of pick 19 came after the Suns finished 16th this season in another difficult campaign which saw them win seven games.
INDICATIVE DRAFT ORDER Your club's picks as they stand
The extra pick gives Gold Coast options at the trade table and will be a carrot for other clubs who are wanting to increase their draft hand.
The club will also again be able to pre-list Academy selections without having to match any rival bids, with Austin Harris and Ned Stevens among the potential Suns. – Callum Twomey
PROMISING PIE PENS NEW DEAL
ANOTHER plank of Collingwood's rebuild has been locked away with defender Trey Ruscoe signing a contract extension.
The West Australian has inked a new two-year deal that will keep him at the Pies until at least the end of 2023.
It follows the fresh extensions for Jack Ginnivan and Tom Wilson who both re-signed for 2022 in recent weeks.
Ruscoe, 19, played three of the first six games of the season as a forward before he was overlooked for 10 weeks.
After making a switch to defence at second-tier level, he won a recall in round 17 and impressed in the final six games of the season.
WHO'S CALLED IT QUITS 2021's retirements and delistings
Ruscoe's contract leaves the Pies with eight players unsigned for next season. Scott Pendlebury will soon extend his stay, while Isaac Chugg is expected to win a new deal.
Mason Cox, Brayden Sier, Josh Thomas and Jay Rantall are awaiting answers on their future, while Max Lynch is working through his options and Jack Madgen remains out of contract. - Mitch Cleary
IN OTHER NEWS
- Victorian clubs, including Essendon, have shown an interest in contracted St Kilda defender Ben Long. He was restricted to just 15 games this year, including four as the medical sub.
- Ex-Port Adelaide veteran Hamish Hartlett has revealed he is willing to move interstate in 2022, if it means another shot on an AFL list. He was delisted by the Power after 193 games at the end of this year.