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.
SUNS GROW CONFIDENT ON STAR DUO
GOLD Coast is growing increasingly confident that star young South Australian pair Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine will commit their futures to the club, with contract talks progressing in recent weeks.
The two players, drafted to the Suns with picks No.2 and No.3 respectively in 2018, have emerged as core pieces in Stuart Dew's plans and it is hoped both will sign long-term contracts to remain at Metricon Stadium for the foreseeable future.
Lukosius is currently battling a knee injury that has kept him to just six games this season, while Rankine has shown considerable improvement over the last month and has kicked 12 goals to go with 13 goal assists from 10 matches so far this year.
Together, the pair entered the season as Gold Coast's priority re-signings – along with key forward Ben King, who signed a two-year deal in March – with Suns football boss Wayne Campbell of the belief that both will be tied down soon.
"The feel from them is really positive," Campbell told AFL.com.au.
"Izak is playing some really good footy, Jack has unfortunately had some hiccups along the way and that's not allowed him to get out there as often as we want.
"But, again, we're getting a really positive feel from both them and their managers. We think they're going to be here longer-term." – Riley Beveridge
KANGAS SHIFT FOCUS TO READY-MADE TALENT
NORTH Melbourne will make a considered effort to bolster its mature-age talent in this season's trade and draft period, as the club continues to look at ways to fast-track its ongoing list rebuild.
The Kangaroos have looked to take a strong hand to the NAB AFL Draft recently, using six top-13 picks in the past six years, but will now adjust their focus slightly and will try to complement those youngsters with more ready-made recruits.
The club is still working through whether that involves drafting more mature-aged players from state leagues, or plunging into the trade and free agency market, but began the process by recruiting 23-year-old Kallan Dawson in the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft.
North Melbourne football boss Dan McPherson is expected to take on more active list management role following the departure of three list and recruiting staff last month and said the focus would shift to finding experienced talent at season's end.
"Absolutely, the (young) talent is there on our list," McPherson told AFL.com.au.
"We're really confident with the young talent that we've got. The gap that we've got at the moment on the list is the middle-aged guys, the 23-to-27-year-olds. That's the gap that we need to fill as quickly as we can.
"We'll be looking at the end of the year to try and bring a couple of guys in that demographic in to complement the guys that have been around for three or four years who are 22 or 23. They still need a bit more leadership in that group."
North Melbourne hasn't narrowed its focus to certain positions on the field, but has searched for key-position talent in recent months to aid young pillars Ben McKay and Nick Larkey at either end of the ground.
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"Where we are at the moment, if we're going to get mature-aged guys in then it's sort of based on what we need – and we need a fair bit at the minute," McPherson said.
"Whether that's a winger, a running half-back, or a key forward or defender … we're not going to pigeonhole exactly what we need down to one or two positions.
"If there's a good free agent or mature player that we think will help us, we'll do our best to try and get him in." – Riley Beveridge
TIGERS IN TALKS WITH DUAL FLAG WINNER
RICHMOND is in ongoing talks with the management of gun utility Liam Baker as it looks to lock in the West Australian beyond 2022.
The 24-year-old has emerged as a star across the past few seasons, finishing runner-up in the Jack Dyer Medal last season after playing in the 2019 and 2020 premierships.
Baker was last out of contract at the end of 2019 when he inked a two-year extension that included a trigger for a third season, which expires in October.
AFL.com.au understands that Baker is happy at Richmond and expects his future to remain at Punt Road, despite the pull of being closer to home.
Baker is from a small country town 340km east of Perth and plans on going back once his football career is over, but Pingaring is still more than three hours from Perth meaning the lure of playing for West Coast or Fremantle isn't quite the same as other Sandgropers.
The small forward-turned-defender lives with Jayden Short, who recently signed a five-year deal to remain at the Swinburne Centre until the end of 2027.
The former rookie, who was overlooked in two drafts before the Tigers plucked him out of the WAFL at the end of 2017, has played 75 games for Richmond.
Meanwhile, triple premiership Tiger Nathan Broad is off the club's out-of-contract list after it emerged he had quietly hit a trigger for a 2023 extension.
It is understood Broad, whose deal was previously set to expire at the end of this season, reached the trigger last year and will extend his time at the Tigers into an eighth season.
Broad signed a two-year extension at the end of 2020 after speculation about a move to Gold Coast. The West Australian played 14 games last season and finished equal 10th in the best and fairest. – Josh Gabelich and Nathan Schmook
BIG MAGPIE ON TRACK FOR EXTENSION
COLLINGWOOD big man Darcy Cameron is on track to remain a Magpie beyond this season following a superb run of form at AFL level.
The Magpies and Cameron's management started talks on a new deal just over a fortnight ago and have progressed quickly, with both parties keen to lock away an extension.
Cameron has played all but one game this season, but he stepped into the No.1 ruck role after Brodie Grundy injured the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Anzac Day.
Since round seven, Cameron has averaged 16.5 disposals, 21.5 hitouts, 3.5 clearances and 6.0 marks, making a big impact in the Magpies' recent three-game winning run.
He recorded a career-best 26 disposals and six clearances to go with nine marks and a goal in a best-on-ground performance against Hawthorn in round 12.
Recruited by Sydney as a 21-year-old out of the WAFL, Cameron played one game with the Swans before crossing to the Magpies ahead of the 2020 season.
He told AFL.com.au last month that he loved Collingwood and was keen to remain at the club beyond 2022. – Nathan Schmook
HANDFUL OF DRAFTEES LOCK AWAY 18-MONTH DEALS
ADELAIDE will only have the remainder of the year to decide on the future of its NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft recruit Brett Turner, with the mature-aged midfielder the earliest pick to not nominate an 18-month contract.
Eight of the 17 players to have been handed an AFL lifeline during last week's mid-season draft nominated for 18-month contracts, ensuring their future until at least the end of the 2023 season.
They included West Coast midfielder Jai Culley, who was selected with the No.1 overall pick, as well as North Melbourne defender Kallan Dawson and Essendon ball-user Massimo D'Ambrosio, who were taken with picks No.2 and No.3 respectively.
Hawthorn ruckman Max Ramsden, Collingwood midfielder Josh Carmichael, Richmond forward Jacob Bauer, Sydney youngster Hugo Hall-Kahan and Hawthorn defender James Blanck were the others to nominate terms on an 18-month deal.
Turner, drafted to the Crows with pick No.4, was the first player selected to only nominate for a six-month contract meaning his initial AFL deal will expire at the conclusion of the current campaign.
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Greater Western Sydney forward Wade Derksen, Gold Coast midfielder Oskar Faulkhead, Port Adelaide ruckman Brynn Teakle, Geelong forward Zane Williams, Carlton defender Sam Durdin and Fremantle forward Sebit Kuek also nominated for six-month contracts.
Essendon forward Jye Menzie and Carlton midfielder Will Hayes were both selected in the second round of the mid-season draft and also nominated for deals that will expire at season's end. – Riley Beveridge
PORT DUO MAKE MANAGER SWITCH
W SPORTS and Media Talent Management Agency has continued to expand into the AFL marketplace by signing Port Adelaide captain Tom Jonas and small forward Orazio Fantasia as clients in recent weeks.
The Adelaide-based agency was launched by Garry Winter and Dimitris Parhas in 2015 on the back of their legal work with tennis legend Lleyton Hewitt and has grown quickly since then.
They represent Olympians, including 100m freestyle gold medallist Kyle Chalmers, as well as media identities and have landed a number of AFL stars in the past 12 months, focusing on players with South Australian ties.
All-Australian key forward Charlie Dixon signed in November and Adelaide midfielder Matt Crouch last year, joining his brother, St Kilda midfielder Brad Crouch, at W Sports.
W Sports also manages Gold Coast young gun Izak Rankine – who is yet to re-sign beyond 2022 just yet – Brodie Smith, Jordon Sweet, Kyle Hartigan, Chris Burgess and Tyson Stengle.
Champion small forward Eddie Betts is also managed by the agency, who have continued to represent him since he retired from the game at the end of last season. – Josh Gabelich