Jack Bowes, Tanner Bruhn, Ollie Henry, how deals are done

It won’t be the biggest explosive deal of this trade period. But for many, Jack Bowes’ decision to join Geelong – and the resulting domino effect – amid the AFL’s equalizer era will be the most controversial.

After all, how can Geelong – who have just won their fourth flag in 15 years after playing in the final for the 17th time in 19 seasons – come close to completing the AFL swap deal with three players? of rival clubs initially taken in the first of their respective drafts and Pick 7 in this year’s draft?

It’s a prospect hard for many to imagine, but quite above all else. And that’s thanks to shrewd roster management choices, a tremendous club culture – both on and off the pitch – and the club’s ability to capitalize on arguably its greatest asset: location.

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While there is still a lot to do at the trading table over the next week, the likelihood of the reigning premiers acquiring three high-quality young players and a top-10 pick gained serious momentum on Wednesday when Gold Coast’s Jack Bowes named the Cats as his favorite destination.

Bowes has fallen out of favor with the Suns this year, managing just five games after a delayed start to the season following shoulder surgery. Subsequently, the Suns player attracted interest from several rival clubs, although he was contracted to the Suns until 2024 and agreed a very difficult deal worth more than $1.5 million over the next two years.

The Suns were happy to offload Bowes and, just as importantly, his salary to another club. Geelong, Essendon, Hawthorn and Brisbane were the rival clubs interested in Bowes and happy to take his wages.

Jack Bowes wants to join the Geelong Cats. Photo: Chris HydeSource: Getty Images

It is therefore remarkable that Geelong can take on Bowes’ excessive contract, despite his remarkably successful 15 years and the fact that there are already heaps of stars on his roster like Jeremy Cameron, Patrick Dangerfield, Tom Hawkin, Tom Stewart, isaac smith, Cam Guthrie and Mitch Duncan. The luxury for Geelong is that the club could extend Bowes’ contract, smooth out the deal and ensure the salary is taxed less on his cap to accommodate a framework that has worked so well for him for so long.

“Gee it’s flattening for the rest of the competition, that Geelong was able to do it,” St Kilda great Leigh Montagna said on Fox Footy’s. Trading day.

“Clubs like Essendon and Hawthorn would like to continue to rebuild and get that first choice, and get a quality player in the right age bracket. Unfortunately for them, it was the Cats who found their strengths again.

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Even more remarkably, Bowes’ ‘salary dump’ deal will also include Gold Coast’s first-round natural selection (Pick 7) – who was bought into clubs as an added incentive to take the 24-year-old’s salary – and that Geelong should only end it at the expense of their future second-round pick. If the Cats land the pick as expected, it will be their first top-10 selection since 2006, when they took a punt on an injury-prone Bendigo Pioneers prospect named Joel Selwood at Pick 7. He worked well.

Then there is the possibility that the cats also land in giant Tanner Bruhn and magpie Ollie Henry. Like Bowes (Pick 10, 2016), Bruhn and Henry were first-round selections, taken with Picks 12 and 17 respectively by the Giants and Collingwood in 2020.

The club are also keen on the former Essendon speedster Conor McKennawhich he can acquire as a rookie via the pre-season supplemental selection period.

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Like, how does this happen? In a time when the success of an AFL season is not designed to lead to lasting success, how can Geelong succeed at the trade table fresh off of another premiership?

Keystone to Cats’ success is long-running roster and recruiting guru Stephen Wells, which is universally respected in the AFL industry. He’s humble, measured and respectful at the trading table, but he’s the shrewd brain behind the ever-growing Geelong roster that consistently achieves success on the field and brings joy to so many Cats fans.

“If you look at the last 20 years, I think Wellsy is among the most important people at the club – that’s how important he has been to Geelong,” said Cat Cameron Mooney, the two-time premier. foxfooty.com.au last month.

The players taken by Geelong in the draft were the core of the dynasty team that won flags in 2007, 2009 and 2011. And while star free agents and trade acquisitions were crucial for the premiership team the most recent of the Cats, the players initially taken by Geelong in the draft – like Selwood, Hawkins, Guthrie, Stewart, Marc Blicavs, Jed Bews, Jack Henry, Gryan Miers, Tom Atkins, Sam DeKoning and Brad Close – again formed the backbone.

Jed Bews and Mark Blicavs of the Cats hold the Premier’s Cup aloft. Photo: Daniel PockettSource: Getty Images

Under Wells, the Cats have found a tremendous recruiting formula.

As well as the four northern clubs with their academies, Geelong has the AFL’s best recruiting tool(s): location, lifestyle and culture.

The Cats have prioritized and managed to attract several players to the Geelong area in which they grew up. Additionally, they are based in an area to offer a unique, quieter, beach-side lifestyle for an AFL footballer that few rival clubs can.

Cameron and Dangerfield are the poster boys for this Cats approach, while Smith, Gary Rohan, Shaun Higgin, Luke Dahlhaus and Lachie Henderson have also chosen to return to their roots.

While Bowes is a pure Queensland product, Bruhn and Henry came through the Geelong Falcons program. And with Pick 7, the Cats are almost certain to target the 2022 Falcons co-captain Jhye Clark – a competitive beast inside the ball with great leadership traits that ironically reminds scouts of Joel Selwood.

The lifestyle, high standards, culture and subsequent success on the pitch also naturally helped the Cats avoid overpaying players – a strategy that stemmed from the attitude of Geelong’s senior players during the Premiership dynasty. and which still persists today. It’s been well documented, for example, that Dangerfield, Hawkins, and Selwood were all (thankfully) paid well below market value during their time at Cats.

Jhye Clark of the Falcons. Photo: Jonathan DiMaggioSource: Getty Images

A club’s ability to ‘dump wages’ this year has been made easier by the AFL, which allows more lopsided deals to help clubs eliminate their tight caps and reward teams for taking the money of a player while adding draft picks. Therefore, a club like Geelong will always be dumped, rather than being the dumpers.

“They’re really strong on how they pay players,” Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd said of the Cats on AFL Commercial Radio.

“They have a system where they wouldn’t want Jordan De Goey to come into their football club and be paid more than Tom Stewart, they wouldn’t have a system where he comes in and paid more than Mark Blicavs.

“You have to come and you’ll be offered a lower salary than what he’s paid at Collingwood or St Kilda so he should come and play for less or extend his contract over a longer period to play for less because they’re not paying not too expensive.

“That’s why they’ve just won a premiership and they can still pitch for (Jacob) Hopper and Ollie Henry while all these clubs are scrambling, Geelong is able to sit down and say, ‘Who want we take this situation after winning a premiership?

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“They have a ladder that if you hit 30…you’re not playing for much more than the basic payout…it would be embarrassing to raise Geelong’s wages (compared to) Gold Coast wages and many other clubs .”

Montagna added: “And the ability, because of players’ selflessness, to not take the big price, to take a little less and to understand that’s what leads to success.”

The Cats’ culture, off-court stability and brilliant coaching have been invaluable. But top-flight consistency wouldn’t have come without the shrewd and brave moves of the club’s roster and scouting department.

“Why clubs like Geelong have been able to maintain their competitiveness without hitting bottom is because they made the right choices when they were successful,” said the former Power, Hawks and Saints roster boss, Chris Pelchen. foxfooty.com.au last month.

“Clubs tend to position themselves to rebuild by going down the ladder, getting multiple draft picks either by trading players or taking what the draft offers them in the sense of the automatic draft picks that come with the fact to be at the bottom of the scale. What Geelong and Sydney did particularly well was when they actually climbed the ladder and successfully rebuilt…rather than falling back down, they made the right choices while still succeeding.

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“Some clubs wait until the talent is exhausted, whether by age or performance, and they are hesitant to move players because they are always in the top 22 or the top 12. So you need a good grip. decision, but most of all, it takes courage.

In an ideal world for the Cats, they get Bowes, Bruhn, Henry and Clark (with Pick 7) back this offseason after only losing Selwood to retirement on their Premier side.

Pretty good management, that.

“That’s why great football clubs stay where they are. Brilliant off the pitch as much as on it,” Kangaroo David King, two-time prime minister, told Fox Footy. Trading day.

“Selling the vision, selling the dream for this kid to come down and be part of what is already a special football club, the way they treat people, the way they allow you to have a life outside of football Not everything is football.

“It’s a great sale, and why wouldn’t you want to go for it?” If you were Jack Bowes, you would choose Geelong right now.

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