YOUNG forward Josh Schache struggled with the intense speculation about his playing future, but plans to be at the Brisbane Lions next year, his manager says.
Schache signed a two-year extension in June to remain at the Lions before his decision to skip the NEAFL Grand Final and return to Victoria again ignited discussion about him potentially leaving.
But Schache's manager, David Trotter, of McDonald Sports, told NAB AFL Trade Radio on Tuesday his conversations with the 20-year-old all pointed to him fulfilling his contract.
Trotter suggested the only change to that would be from the Lions, rather than his player, who is on a holiday with his Seymour-based family.
"I heard 'Nobes' (Lions general manager of football David Noble) on your program earlier this week saying he'd heard a lot of external noise," Trotter said.
"From my point of view, that's all it is as well. There was a lot of fascination around Josh earlier in the year and it still seems to be happening, but my last conversation with Josh … was nothing around leaving.
"It was plans for his off-season and heading back up to Brisbane, so that's all I can judge it off."
Schache kicked only nine goals from 10 AFL games in 2017, down from 17 and 16 in his first season at AFL level. He requested a premature end to his season because of fatigue, something the Lions granted.
Trotter's theory was his client was still dealing with "a bit of carryover" from taking on a big role in his debut campaign.
"(That) has sort of gone unrecognised, but the club was really good in saying that his numbers were down at the end of year and he was pretty fatigued," Trotter said.
"So they wrapped him up, like they did the end of last year, and finished his season a bit early.
"I think (there is) a bit of frustration when you read some of the articles and things, but that's just part of footy these days and the players have to deal with it."
Trotter said Schache was a person who puts "a lot of pressure on himself", but cares deeply about the club, his teammates, friends and family – and what they think of him.
"If you look back (at) the history of the gun key forwards at the moment, there are not too many who come in and dominate the competition in their first couple of years," he said.
"So I do think we've got to be a little bit patient with these young key talls, because history says they do take a bit of time.
"I have no doubt Josh will have a big off-season, a big pre-season, and start to put together some pretty good footy."
Trotter also confirmed Greater Western Sydney midfielder Matt Kennedy had requested a trade to Carlton for greater opportunity.
Another Lion, Hugh McCluggage, the No.3 pick in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, will discuss his future with Trotter after the exchange period, with the likelihood of him extending his Queensland stay.