CHRIS Dawes is expected to settle on his new football home by tonight, with the Brisbane Lions making a late pitch for the Collingwood forward.
Dawes, on holiday in the US with his girlfriend, met the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne last week and both clubs expect him to make his mind up before or over the weekend.
The 24-year-old, contracted for two more years at Collingwood, appears most likely to play for either the Demons or Bulldogs next year. Both clubs have similar first-round picks – Melbourne pick 20 and the Bulldogs No. 21 – to work into a potential trade.
It had been understood that Dawes’ preference was to join Carlton, but the Blues insist he is not on their radar, despite his abilities being well known to new Blues coach Mick Malthouse.
The Lions consider themselves long shots to persuade Dawes to move interstate, given he is studying for a law degree, with his girlfriend well positioned in her accounting career.
Dawes decided to explore his options beyond Collingwood last week, feeling the club’s decision to sign West Coast forward Quinten Lynch as an unrestricted free agent threw his role for 2013 into doubt.
Melbourne coach Mark Neeld is still hopeful his relationship with Dawes can convince him to join the Demons. Neeld coached Dawes in his first four years when he was an assistant at Collingwood and the Demons have also used one of his former premiership teammates – assistant coach Leigh Brown – in pitches to sell their vision to Dawes.
Melbourne has spoken to Dawes several times. ”We used [our relationship with Dawes] for everything it was worth. Leigh Brown and I went around to see ‘Dawesy’ straight away,” Neeld said.
He said having someone at the club with a strong relationship with a recruiting target had worked for the Demons last year when they lured another key forward, former Brisbane Lion Mitch Clark. Neeld said the club would take both Dawes and Scott Gumbleton if it could.
Meanwhile, Geelong remained open to offers for talented forward Mitch Brown, who is contracted. Brown has drawn the interest of Fremantle, as well as a small handful of other clubs, and may move on after four years with the Cats.
Geelong’s interest in Melbourne defender Jared Rivers hinges on it being able to create a spot on the list for him, given it has brought in Gold Coast onballer Josh Caddy, is hoping to acquire Hamish McIntosh from North Melbourne and has several rookies who must be upgraded, delisted or lost as free agents.
Geelong might be able to accommodate Rivers, who would require around $350,000 per annum, under its salary cap but the list spot is the more pressing issue and has held up the prospect of him leaving the Demons. The Cats’ success in acquiring Caddy means the club is no longer pursuing Melbourne onballer Jordan Gysberts.
Brent Moloney’s move to Brisbane is expected to cancel out Melbourne’s acquisition of Shannon Byrnes in regards to compensation, meaning the Demons will only receive an extra draft pick should Rivers walk to another club, as it expects he will.
With MATT MURNANE
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