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4 Points: No surprise in De Goey move to go full tilt with Pies

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Skin in the game: Jordan De Goey sees his future at Collingwood.

Photo: AAP

Jordan De Goey did something that felt extraordinary but in truth was utterly unexceptional when he turned down more money to stay where he was.

Quite simply, players seldom move for money. They move interstate, they move to go home, they move for opportunity but rarely do they move for money and not cross a border.

De Goey was offered at least $5 million over five years to go to North or St Kilda. He stayed for about $1.5 million over two years.

Put aside years three, four and five of the contracts elsewhere because he will be well paid at Collingwood or elsewhere in those years. Confine it to the two-year deal at Collingwood and what he would have earned elsewhere over those two years at North and he has turned down about $500,000.

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It sounds strange to turn down the sort of amount that would be life-changing for most of us but in footy it is not strange – moving would be strange.

Last week The Age revealed Alex Rance was close to extending his deal to stay at Richmond by another three years. If Rance, who has often seriously considered retiring, chose instead to move clubs at the end of his contract he could expect to earn about an extra $400,000 a year to go. To be fair, Rance is not on the Newstart allowance at Richmond but he would get a huge payrise.

Charlie Curnow has signed a new deal at Carlton on about $800,000 a year for five years. If he instead threw himself on the open market he could name his price. He would get at least another million over the life of that five-year deal. Ditto Patrick Cripps.

For all of the free-agency freedom, players still prefer not to move unless it is for family. Most of the players in the higher earning bracket do not get to the point of putting a toe in the water with other clubs until they are free agents or want to return home – i.e. a Jake Lever or Patty Dangerfield.

Thus De Goey was unusual because there was a sense he was available. It was not just that he was not sure if he wanted to stay, it was uncertain at the start of this year whether his club wanted to keep him.

De Goey ended up getting a pay rise even to stay, in part from the fact he was a bad boy. His changed behaviour made his club want to keep him but his bad behaviour drew other clubs forward with offers.

The midfielder's indiscretions off the field – a drink driving offence pre-season drew another club suspension – created the idea that he could be prepared to move or the club prepared to trade him. Once that idea took root at rival clubs, the offers that might not otherwise have been seriously pushed were suddenly given new force.

Collingwood were tough with De Goey but knew, or hoped, it was youthful immaturity that was his problem. They helped him grow up a bit this year and he and they are the better for it.

What does his re-signing mean now? At Collingwood it means the focus shifts to Darcy Moore, who has had a contract on his table since early in the year but has not signed it yet. Nor has he played much yet, so perhaps when one happens so might the other. Jamie Elliott, too, is unsigned.

It means North and St Kilda remain cashed up and still intent on landing a player. They would both prefer midfielders first and so Rory Sloane remains a target, especially for the Saints.

It means Jeremy McGovern, the player less talked about as a free agent after Tom Lynch, will be a focus for North.

Collingwood have a tight salary cap to move in and are interested to be in the conversation with Lynch. Richmond, too, are eager to lure Lynch, but in re-signing De Goey and Rance both clubs know the priority has to be keeping the stars you have before you reach for the (new) stars.

Saints come marching back

Where has this been? Where, oh where, were St Kilda all this year?

This was the win that said much of what has been missing at St Kilda this year, but also what is missing at Melbourne.

St Kilda was fast and aggressive with their ball movement. Melbourne was not.

On Queens Birthday Melbourne was beaten around the ball and made to look ploddingly slow by foot, especially behind the ball. Then they had Bernie Vince and Jordan Lewis behind he ball and the balance looked all wrong. On Sunday they left Vince out, but still the Demons looked sluggish for leg speed.

Foot speed is not what you associate with St Kilda other than Jack Steven and Jade Gresham but on Sunday they looked quick. It was the pace at which they moved the ball that was the difference. They played with urgency, running in waves with overlap handballs. They worked the ball forward quickly and often got the ball in with a kick to a forward running back to goal. Melbournes defence was assailed.

Seb Ross patrolled loose behind the ball and left Melbourne, which was forced by St Kilda pressure to be more static in ball movement, to hesitate when they took the ball forward.

This was a well-coached win. Allan Richardson deserves much credit for rebuilding the confidence of the team and entrusting and empowering youth to play the game with freedom.

Hunter Clark was as important as anyone in the run and daring. Jade Gresham was already fast emerging as a star and only enhanced that on Sunday. Daniel McKenzie, Bailey Rice and Irishman Darragh Joyce took the game on through the corridor. Josh Battle has done little wrong since he came into the team, and was important in the clutch moments again.

Tigers running wild and free

Jack Higgins throws his arms around his teammates at three quarter time. They expectantly wait for a joke to lighten the mood. He looks up and quips: “the other mob think they are a chance …” The players fall about laughing, then win the game.

Sing when you're winning: Richmond have hit a new high note with consistent good form in 2018.

Photo: AAP

Higgins didnt say that, but he well might have, for presently it feels laughable that anyone could think themselves within touching distance of the Tigers.

Only weeks ago West Coast felt similarly. They could not be beaten at home and had the best key forward combination in the game. Now they have neither. Proof that you can be imperious but you are absolutely vulnerable.

On Thursday, Richmond saw Trent Cotchin grind along on a grumbly knee and Alex Rance go off after a crack in the head. Both played out the game well.

Collingwood now sit beneath Richmond, but there is a great vulnerability about them from mounting injuries.

Adam Treloar had already joined Jamie Elliott, Darcy Moore, Trav Varcoe and Ben Reid in the stands. Linden Dunn looks likely to join them for the rest of the year. Of the clubs top dozen players Collingwood now has almost half of them in the stands.

MCG form lays groundwork for success

On Saturday Port Adelaide defeated Carlton in just their sixth game at the MCG since the SA club's 2014 preliminary final loss to Hawthorn. In that same period the Hawks have played 42 games at the venue where the premiership is decided.

No wonder Port Adelaide chairman David Koch asked for Port to be given more games at the MCG than the two they have this season.

Adelaide play their second game at the MCG for the season on Friday night against Richmond, which has played nine in the same period, while the Giants have played just 13 at the MCG in their history.

Unrivalled: The MCG is the home of AFL football.

Photo: Paul Rovere

Although all the non-Victorian contenders have a game at the MCG in the second half of the season, none can tune up like Richmond or Collingwood, who play 10 at the MCG between them in the final eight rounds.

It's an advantage that is hard to deny.

Peter Ryan

Michael Gleeson

Michael Gleeson is a senior AFL football writer and Fairfax Media's athletics writer. He also covers tennis, cricket and other sports. He won the AFL Players Association Grant Hattam Trophy for excellence in journalism for the second time in 2014 and was a finalist in the 2014 Quill Awards for best sports feature writer. He was also a finalist in the 2014 Australian Sports Commission awards for his work on Boots for Kids. He is a winner of the AFL Media Association award for best news reporter and a two-time winner of Cricket Victorias cricket writer of the year award. Michael has covered multiple Olympics, Commonwealth Games and world championships and 15 seasons of AFL, He has also written seven books – five sports books and two true crime books.

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