Ben Duscher, co-captain at Bendigo Football Club the past two seasons, has quit the Gold to play for Essendon’s new Victorian Football League team.
Duscher’s decision came after AFL clubs Essendon and the Western Bulldogs told the 25-year-old they wouldn’t pick him in yesterday’s pre-season and rookie draft.
While disappointed to see his “number one priority” for next season switch VFL clubs, Gold coach Aussie Jones tried to focus on the positives yesterday.
“Duscher was our number one priority because he was our captain, but what it has done is probably freed up room in our salary cap for two quality VFL blokes or guys coming off AFL lists, so in the long run it will probably help our group,” Jones said.
“If we don’t end up being able to land a couple of leaders we’ll develop from within.
“There’s guys on the training track putting their hand up to lead the footy club.
“They’re not going to have the VFL experience like Ben, but they’ll be playing for Bendigo with the aim of playing a higher level and being with our footy club for the right reasons.”
Jones said he would be surprised if Duscher’s decision to switch VFL clubs was solely to give himself the best chance of being drafted.
The 2011 Bendigo best-and-fairest and co-captain, who lives near Windy Hill, has trained with Essendon in each of the past three years and with the Bulldogs this year without being picked up by an AFL club.
“I think it’s basically money and the fact that Essendon were prepared to pay a fair bit of it upfront. We’ve got the corporate side of things we need to manage and be smart with as well,” Jones said.
“It got to the stage where if we had have met (his) demands our salary cap would have been under pressure and we shouldn’t be like that with such a young group.”
Meanwhile, the Gold is close to a resolution with Justin Maddern, who wants to play with South Bendigo in the Bendigo Football League next season, but is contracted to the Gold.
Jones said it was “more than likely” Maddern would be released to play for the Bloods.
“It’s all positive, our relationship with South Bendigo’s actually really good and we want to keep that,” Jones said.
“We’re just working out to make sure we get a positive out of it.”
One positive for the Gold is the signing of ex-Bendigo Pioneers midfielder Galen Munari.
In other draft news, Munari’s former team-mates at the Pioneers, Liam Byrne and Sam Heavyside, weren’t selected yesterday and will be over-age players for the TAC Cup club next season.
Two graduates from the Pioneers, Bridgewater’s Andrew Collins and Mildura’s Ariel Steinberg, were re-drafted as rookies after being delisted by Carlton and Essendon respectively.
Sydney Swans champion Adam Goodes’ brother, experienced Williamstown star Brett, was snapped up by the Bulldogs as a rookie, while former Bomber Sam Lonergan was thrown a lifeline by Richmond as was ex-Geelong ruckman Orren Stephenson.
Gippsland Power’s Will Hams, younger brother of Gold rookie and South Bendigo star Tom, was rookie-listed by Essendon.
And Kurt Tippett’s two-month wait to reach AFL premiers Sydney is over, even though he must wait more than another six months to play for them.
The 202cm, 25-year-old ex-Adelaide forward was the most notable of just eight players taken in yesterday’s pre-season draft.
Even that number was inflated by Adelaide’s Nick Joyce, Fremantle’s Jesse Crichton and Greater Western Sydney’s Dean Brogan being re-drafted by their clubs.
The Giants also gave ex-Carlton key position player Bret Thornton a new home.
He and Tippett were the only AFL-experienced players to make it onto different clubs’ primary lists, although several others were given rookie draft lifelines.
Discarded Melbourne forward Ricky Petterd joined Richmond.
Tippett, who played 104 games for the Crows, had tried to reach the Swans through October’s trade and free agency periods.
But his move was delayed by an investigation into draft and salary cap breaches by the Crows and Tippett, for which the big man will have to sit out next season’s first 11 rounds.
In other rookie selections, Collingwood gave 33-year-old ruck coach Ben Hudson a chance to play with a fourth AFL club.
Hawthorn claimed former Magpies big man Jonathon Ceglar.
West Coast took ex-Melbourne West Australian running player Jamie Bennell.
Another WA indigenous player, Dayle Garlett, missed out on both lists because of disciplinary concerns.
AFL-experienced players missing out included Liam Jurrah, Brent Prismall, Cameron Wood, Matthew Bate and Josh Toy.
The Swans rookie-drafted Brandon Jack and Xavier Richards, brothers of Sydney’s Kieren and Ted respectively.
Brisbane picked Jordon Bourke, son of former Geelong and Lions’ big man Damien. – with AAP