One of the biggest talking points to come out of the first day of the trade period was the apparent phone call from recently appointed Collingwood Football Director Graeme (Gubby) Allen to Brisbane Captain Tom Rockliff’s manager Tom Petroro.
Ostensibly the call from Allen, who recruited Rockliff to the Lions, was just a private one to see how Rockliff was holding up following the fall-out from a derogatory tweet he published the week before – which he has since deleted and apologised for.
However, for the call to be made at this time, and given the continued uncertainty surrounding Rockliff’s future at the Lions, it was always going to lead to speculation the Magpies were chasing the 26-year old.
That’s how it has turned out to be, with mainstream media now reporting the call was not only made to enquire about Rockliff’s well-being, but to also find out if he had any interest in leaving Brisbane.
For a big name player to be associated with Collingwood in the lead-up to and even during the trade period is nothing new – most are at some stage – no matter how improbable.
Which is how this one appears on the surface. Rockliff is contracted for another 12 months, and Collingwood’s highest current selection is pick 27 – which would not be enough to satisfy the Lions.
If speculation is correct, the Magpies have more than likely set that selection aside to obtain young GWS forward Will Hoskin-Elliott.
With their next selection at 35, and with both Josh Daicos and Callum Brown both tipped to be called out by Derek Hine on draft night, Collingwood just do not appear to have the draft picks required to acquire Rockliff.
Yet despite the seemingly unlikelihood of this scenario actually playing out, the story continued to gain traction on Monday after first coming to light over the weekend.
That Rockliff is a tradeable option for the Lions is now without doubt, and even should he remain at the club in 2017 it will not be as Captain.
Neither Brisbane Lions CEO Greg Swann nor list manager Peter Schwab have been prepared to say Rockliff would definitely be at the club next season. Both admitted that although he was contracted, anything was possible during the trade period.
Recently appointed Brisbane Head Coach Chris Fagan has apparently been advised that it would be in the best interest of both club and player if they were to part ways, but is waiting to meet with Rockliff in person before making a decision himself.
Yet should he leave the Lions, the list of reported suitors for Rockliff’s services is not long. When feelers were put out earlier in the season only Adelaide and St Kilda expressed any real interest.
It now appears the Crows are definitely out of the race with news on Monday that Carlton’s Bryce Gibbs has requested a trade back home to South Australia, and has already come to an informal agreement with Adelaide. The Saints have also seemingly cooled on the idea of bringing in Rockliff.
So could Rockliff actually get to Collingwood given their limited available selections they have at their disposal and his value on the open market?
Quite simply the answer is yes.
As the Magpies recently found out themselves with Travis Cloke, it is a buyer’s market. When the situation between club and player becomes untenable it is time to part ways, and if there are limited destinations for that player his value automatically decreases.
Rockliff’s value is no more than an early second round selection, and although the Magpies haven’t one available if they bring in Hoskin-Elliott, it appears all but certain both Jack Frost and Jarrod Witts will be heading north. Frost has agreed to terms with Brisbane, while at this stage although Gold Coast appear to be front runners for Witts, the Lions are still a possibility.
Could it be as simple as a straight swap if Witts goes to Brisbane with Frost? Possibly, but it is more than likely the Lions will ask for more, and this is where it will get tricky for the Magpies.
They need selections for father/sons Brown and Daicos, and should either or both be selected by another club before the third round, as it currently stands Collingwood will not have enough points in hand.
Quite simply unless a straight trade can be made for Rockliff with Frost and Witts, or the selection Witts brings in, the Magpies will have to trade out one if not more players.
Nathan Brown was talked about as a trade option only as recently as last week, however he appears now more likely to stay than go, while the other name that has popped up has been Marley Williams.
Originally from Western Australia, Williams would probably be worth a mid-second round selection on the open market, and may be a good fit for West Coast who could use some more run off half back. The Eagles second round selection of 32 would more than likely get the deal done.
Whether or not it is Williams or another player traded for a pick of around the same value, from a trading perspective it appears more than possible a Rockliff trade to Collingwood could be done. However, if Daniel Wells and Chris Mayne are brought into the club the question of salary cap space also becomes an issue.
Rockliff will not get nowhere near the $800k he was reportedly after earlier in the season, but he will still command a decent salary. With Wells rumoured to be looking at an offer of $600,000 per year and Mayne $500,000, surely it would put enormous pressure on the Magpie’s salary cap.
Could the Mayne deal be scuttled to make way for Rockliff? Because fitting Rockliff’s salary seems the only issue standing in the way of this improbable trade occurring.
Although un-thought of only weeks ago, the timely trading of Frost and Witts, the seemingly increasingly untenable situation between Brisbane and Rockliff, as well as the apparent general disinterest from other clubs forcing his value down, has made it achievable.
Or it could all be smoke and mirrors, and absolutely nothing to the reports. It’s not like that hasn’t happened before during the trade period. The only thing that is certain over the trade/free agency period is that anything is possible and that the vast majority of trade scenarios such as the one you have just read, are just that – scenarios.
But isn’t that why we all love this time of year so much.
Could Tom Rockliff make his way to the Magpies? Have your say below.