Port Adelaide lands big targets on busy AFL trade deadline day
Esava Ratugolea is moving to Port Adelaide after the Power finally secured his move from Geelong. Photo: Getty
Port Adelaide has completed a bumper AFL trade period as it gears up for a premiership tilt, securing long-term target Esava Ratugolea and three fellow recruits late on deadline day.
Ruck pair Ivan Soldo (Richmond) and Jordon Sweet (Western Bulldogs) left rival clubs to join Power, which bolstered its defence with the addition of key duo Ratugolea (Geelong) and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher (Essendon).
The quartet were in a group of more than a dozen players who found new homes on Wednesday.
But the No.1 draft pick – held by West Coast and coveted by rivals who are keen to land teen sensation Harley Reid – has not yet changed hands.
Pick swaps can still be agreed up until draft night on November 20.
Port Adelaide’s recruits will bolster their flag push under re-signed coach Ken Hinkley in 2024, following this year’s straight-sets finals exit.
“I don’t think your list is ever finalised … but there’s no doubt that bringing in two rucks and two key backs will fill needs that we had towards the end of this year that were exposed when the games got big,” Power football boss Chris Davies said.
“We do feel like we’re going to be better in 2024.”
Persistence paid off for Port as it landed Ratugolea at the second attempt.
He was under contract last year but Geelong, which indicated it would again drive a hard bargain for the versatile tall, finally relented this time around.
Port gave up picks 25, 76 and 94 in the deal.
Ratugolea will line up in defence alongside Zerk-Thatcher, who got his trade wish in a dramatic final few minutes before Wednesday night’s trade deadline.
Zerk-Thatcher had a three-year contract on the table from Essendon but was adamant he wanted to move to Power.
The deal, which was approved by the AFL after the clubs’ paperwork deadline, included Xavier Duursma moving to the Bombers.
Essendon also gave up pick 73 and two future fourth-round picks.
“We came in having four players having committed to our club very early on, we felt like we were going to be able to achieve it,” Davies said.
“Clearly it took a bit longer than what we had hoped, but we’re really pleased to leave the period with the four players.”
Rebuilding Hawthorn was also heavily involved on the final day of the trade period, sealing a deal to bring in Collingwood premiership livewire Jack Ginnivan.
The Hawks’ remodelled forward line will also include Mabior Chol (Gold Coast) and returning veteran Jack Gunston (Brisbane).
The Gunston deal involved Brandon Ryan heading to the Lions and an exchange of draft picks, while fellow forward Jacob Koschitzke got his wish when the Hawks traded him to Richmond.
Hawthorn did six trade deals and completed its business by trading pick 61 and a future fourth-round selection to Essendon for Massimo D’Ambrosio just minutes before the buzzer.
Earlier on deadline day, four former top-10 draft picks got their trade wishes.
Paddy Dow moved from Carlton to St Kilda, while Nick Coffield left the Saints for the Bulldogs.
Gold Coast sent Elijah Hollands to the Blues, where he will play alongside brother Ollie, while Jack Billings left St Kilda for Melbourne.
Melbourne snared Billings for a future third-round pick from the Saints, who will reportedly continue paying a portion of the midfielder’s salary.
St Kilda had also been keen on Dylan Shiel but Essendon held firm on the experienced midfielder despite interest from several rival clubs.