Every Thursday AFL.com.au presents Inside Trading, with breaking news and the best analysis of the Continental Tyres AFL Trade Period covering contracts, re-signings, free agents, the NAB AFL Draft and industry insights.


GOLD Coast is in talks to extend the stay of running defender Lachie Weller until late into his career.

Weller is in the final season of a five-year deal that lured him from Fremantle at the end of 2017.

The 26-year-old has made a good fist of his return to the backline in the early rounds of the season, offering a point of difference with his run-and-carry and exquisite ball use.

Weller and the club are working on a three or four-year deal that would take him through to free agency at the Suns after his first three years at the Dockers. 

Lachie Weller dishes off a handball against West Coast in round one, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"I love it here," Weller told AFL.com.au.

"The best way to negotiate a contract is to play well on the weekend, so that's where I'm putting all my energy.

"I'm 26. I feel like I've got plenty more footy in me and hopefully that's with the Suns. If I play a few more years yet and get quite a good career with this club, that's something I will definitely be proud of."

Weller has played 118 career games, 71 of which have come with Gold Coast. – Michael Whiting


A MOVE into the backline has paid immediate dividends for uncontracted St Kilda youngster Josh Battle, who has reiterated his desire to remain at the Saints long-term.

Battle has been used in a range of different roles across his 59-game St Kilda career, but has finally settled as an intercepting defender and has enjoyed the best football of his career throughout the first three games of this season.

As revealed by Inside Trading, Battle's name was raised to rival clubs as a potential trade option last year. However, a recent shift into the backline has the 23-year-old committed to building a future at RSEA Park.

Josh Battle during a St Kilda training session at RSEA Park on January 19, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"It definitely helps, being able to home in on that position down back now. It's something that I want to look forward to doing over the next few years hopefully," Battle told AFL.com.au.

Despite being contracted through until the end of 2022, Battle attracted interest from a number of sides last year and said coach Brett Ratten made a cheeky inquiry as to what all the fuss was about.

BATTLE READY Evolution of an intercept weapon

"I didn't really read into it, because I knew I was contracted this year," Battle said.

"I didn't really have too much of a say in that sort of stuff. It got blown out a little bit over here. 'Ratts' rang me straightaway and said, 'What's going on here?' I said I didn't know and that it was news to me.

"I love it here and we're all pretty close, us lads, so hopefully we can build something pretty special." – Riley Beveridge


AN EARLY name has emerged as a contender for the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft.

Sandringham Dragons ruckman Max Ramsden has taken the attention of recruiters and last week had 11 disposals, 16 hitouts and five clearances in the opening round of the NAB League season.

Ramden, who turns 19 this month, was eligible for the draft last year and nominated (meaning he qualifies as a mid-season option) but was not taken having played school football with Melbourne Grammar over two COVID-hit years.

But the athletic and nimble 202cm prospect has improved with a pre-season at the Dragons and ran a 6:04 minute 2km time trial. For context, Gold Coast gun Matt Rowell ran 6:17 in his year's draft combine time trial. 

Max Ramsden as NAB League boys testing day on March 12, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"We watched him last year and what stood out to us was his ability to get around the ground for the size he was. He was showing some really good traits for a big man with the standout being the athletics side but also his hands above his head," said Dragons talent manager Mark Wheeler.

"He's definitely raw but he's going up in the rankings each week he plays. The clubs all saw what he did on the weekend. He plays like another on-baller so we have to educate him to be a ruckman and we're doing some more ruck craft with him."

TESTING DAY Check out top performers of draft hopefuls

Ramsden could be a similar story as Jacob Edwards, who last year impressed in the early stages of the NAB League season with Sandringham to be the mid-year No.1 pick. He was the first of seven ruckmen taken in the mid-season draft as clubs looked to invest in talls. 

This year's mid-season draft is scheduled for the week leading up to round 12. – Callum Twomey 


RICHMOND'S Daniel Rioli will wait until closer to the end of the season before making a call on his future after signing a one-year extension last year.

Rioli has started this season in strong form off half-back for the Tigers this season, averaging 18 disposals. The triple premiership player was dropped by the Tigers last season but managed 19 games in 2021.

His manager, Ralph Carr, said Rioli was keen to see how the season pans out before making a call on his future.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 27: Daniel Rioli of the Tigers marks the ball during the round two AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Greater Western Sydney Giants at Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 27, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images via AFL Photos)

"I think Daniel's having a great year and Daniel wants to address it later in the year. I'm thrilled with how he's going," Carr told AFL.com.au.

Rioli, who was a first-round pick for the Tigers at the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, is into his seventh season at Punt Road, leaving him one year short of being a free agent, which he would be at the end of 2023. 

He has played 117 games for the club, including kicking 25 goals in the Tigers' breakthrough 2017 premiership season. – Callum Twomey


BRISBANE is in talks with free agent Darcy Gardiner on a new deal.

Gardiner will hit free agency for the first time in his career as his contract expires at the end of this season, which is his ninth at the Lions since joining the club at the 2013 NAB AFL Draft.

The key backman has been a stalwart of their defence since arriving at Brisbane and has played the first three games this season after an injury-interrupted 2021.

Darcy Gardiner spoils over the top of Nick Larkey during the Lions-Roos clash in round three, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Discussions are continuing on an extension for Gardiner, who is one of six free agents at the club this year.

Gardiner's hard-line defensive work and ability to contain some of the competition's best tall forwards has been crucial in the Lions' build throughout his career. – Callum Twomey 


FREMANTLE defender Brandon Walker has signed a two-year contract extension, tying him to the Dockers until the end of 2024. 

The 19-year-old returned for his first appearance of 2022 in last Sunday's derby after overcoming an interrupted pre-season. 

Walker missed both practice matches against West Coast due to hip and groin issues but made an impressive return in the 55-point win over the Eagles, finishing with 15 disposals and 301 metres gained at Optus Stadium. 

Brandon Walker in action against West Coast in round three, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

After arriving at Fremantle at the end of 2020 via the Dockers' Next Generation Academy, Walker forced his way into Justin Longmuir's 22 in round 10 and played 10 games in total in his first season, including the final nine games of the season.

With his speed, agility and leap, Walker was hard to miss in the back end of 2021 and looks set to play plenty of senior football this year. – Josh Gabelich


GEELONG youngster Max Holmes will focus on establishing himself in the Cats' best side before opening contract talks for a deal beyond this season.

The club has held preliminary discussions with Holmes' management regarding an extension to his first contract, though the teenager is happy directing his attention solely to his football for the time being.

Holmes has enjoyed an impressive start to his second season at GMHBA Stadium, with a move to the wing resulting in arguably a career-best performance during Saturday night's thrilling comeback win over Collingwood.

Max Holmes in action against Collingwood in round three, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

The 19-year-old had 20 disposals, five tackles, five score involvements, five intercepts and a goal, backing up a round one display where he booted two goals from 16 touches against Essendon.

Holmes played 12 games in his maiden season with the Cats last year, though three were as an unused medical substitute, with the youngster hopeful of solidifying his place as a mainstay in the best 22 throughout the early stages of this season.

Taken with pick No.20 in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft, Holmes remains one of 12 first-round selections from his draft year still uncontracted beyond their initial deal. – Riley Beveridge


IT IS the recruiting move that is a sign of the times. 

Former Brisbane recruiter Andrew Farrell worked for the Lions list management and scouting team that helped shaped the club's current list for nine years before losing his job as part of the COVID soft cap cuts in 2020. Now, he's working for four clubs. 

Farrell has set up a recruiting consultancy business where he tracks potential draftees for future drafts as well as state league players across the country. He doesn't sway clubs' decisions on players but supplies the same information to all about the important draft areas so that the clubs – who have all been short-staffed in recruiting over the past two years – can be across them in detail. 

The consultancy is available to all AFL clubs, with Farrell attending games and drawing on his network to have staff across Australia to be cover off emerging talents. 

Stephen Conole and Andrew Farrell (right) at the 2017 NAB AFL Draft. Picture: AFL Photos

Farrell, who also worked at Champion Data prior to the Lions, will focus on the under-16s, under-17s and state leagues. 

"I'm a recruiting consultant for the clubs to cover their futures market and also the state league competitions," he told AFL.com.au

"A lot of clubs had full-time recruiters covering the futures four or five years ago and a full-time pro scout and most clubs don't have either of those now so I am working in those areas for the clubs."  

The consultancy allows the four clubs (and more are interested) to monitor the players without having a dedicated full-time resource. The ability to trade future draft picks has meant clubs need to be focused on the talent coming through beyond the current year's draft intake. – Callum Twomey