Being from an interstate team and outside of the Melbourne bubble can often see players fly under the radar, but Lachie Weller catapulted himself into headlines after requesting a trade to leave Fremantle and go home to the Gold Coast. If the deal gets over the line, what kind of player are the Suns getting?
Drafted with pick 13 in the 2014 NAB AFL Draft, Weller made his debut late in 2015 for Fremantle and played all 22 games in both the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Initially, learning the ropes across halfback, Weller became a crucial part of the Dockers midfield group and was one of their most promising young players. In 2017 he averaged 20 disposals as a half back flanker / outside midfielder and had some of his best performances against quality opposition in Adelaide (30 possessions and 2 goals) and Geelong (23 possessions, 9 inside 50s, 6 tackles). Weller still has work to do to complete a transition into the midfield. He needs to improve on his contested possessions and clearance work as a start, but another summer in the gym and full preseason under his belt will be a great step towards his development in these areas.
Given his specific request, it appears to be Gold Coast or nothing. Gold Coast is where he grew up, his partner and her family are based there, his family will be based there soon, and he owns a business with brother Maverick Weller. With so many ties to the area, his decision to reject a four-year deal from Fremantle with the desire to return home is understandable. That someone has requested a trade to Gold Coast for homesick reasons instead of one to leave Gold Coast is already a huge win for the club. The Suns will do what they can (within reason) to bring Weller home.
It will definitely not be pick 2. Fremantle have come out and said Gold Coast’s first round selection in the upcoming draft (pick 2) will be required to get the deal done. Expect the Suns to channel their inner Darryl Kerrigan and “tell ‘em they’re dreamin“.
A three-way deal involving GWS that would send Nathan Wilson and Brandon Matera to the Dockers was briefly discussed but ultimately shut down by Fremantle who want to keep those deals separate. It appears we have a good old-fashioned standoff here, as Fremantle won’t budge for anything less and the Suns won’t pay such a high price. Something’s got to give and that will be Fremantle. Gold Coast hold all the bargaining power here as Weller will leave at the end of next season for nothing if Fremantle don’t get a deal done this trade period.
Coming out and demanding pick 2 could be a ploy by the Dockers to overvalue Weller and have the Suns content with any deal that doesn’t involve that pick. As it stands, Gold Coast hold picks 21, 24 and 26, any of which I see as fair compensation. It wouldn’t surprise me however if Fremantle play hardball and try to get two of these picks and Gold Coast to agree. The only way pick 2 will be involved is if Fremantle’s pick 5 is also involved and a deal like pick 2 and pick 24 for Weller and pick 5 is made.
Despite the short amount of time left in the trade period, Weller to Gold Coast will get done. The most likely scenario is that one of Gold Coast’s second round picks is used to get the deal done either in isolation, coupled with another second round pick or a swap of first round picks. It will take some tweaking and compromising between the two clubs so I wouldn’t be surprised if this goes down to the wire before a trade is made.
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