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Mature-age recruits thriving from change

Getty

Getty

As they say, a change can be as good as a holiday.

Because of footy’s many compromised drafts in recent years, clubs have often looked to other lists to fill gaps and top up.

It doesn’t always work – Richmond are a perfect case in point – but with the upside is extremely high if clubs can get it right.

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No one has done it better than three-time defending premiers Hawthorn.

In their team that edged Adelaide in Friday night’s classic, six players (Shaun Burgoyne, Josh Gibson, James Frawley, Ben McEvoy, Jack Gunston and Jonathon Ceglar) have been recruited from other clubs.

As footy fans, we’ve marvelled at the rich vein of form North Melbourne forward Jarrad Waite has showed this year.

He has kicked 18 goals in five games and been a key figure in his side’s 5-0 start to the season, so much so that Champion Data has him ranked as the number one player in the game.

So, inspired by Waite, we’ve decided to look at some of the AFL’s best mature-age recruits starring at their new home.

Jarrad Waite

In a recent interview on Fox Footy, the 33-year-old – who left Carlton to join North in 2014 – claimed his career had been extended by his new club’s injury prevention program.

At the Blues, Waite was plagued with back injuries, which as a key forward, proved to be very restrictive in his performances.

Frustration crept into his game, and suspensions soon followed.

eddie betts adelaide

Betts has been an inspired pick-up for the Crows. Photo: Getty

In 12 seasons at Carlton, Waite played just over 50 per cent of games but at North, he has missed only two matches.

He’s taking big marks and kicking goals in 2016 so far and if he can keep up his form, the Kangaroos will be confident of going a step further in the finals and reaching the grand final.

Eddie Betts

Turning 30 this year, Betts has gone from an excitement machine making a living out of crumbing goals off Brendan Fevola and the Carlton talls, to a player who consistently makes an impact.

He’s turned his goal-a-game average from 1.5 to 3 and improved his kicking for goal – particularly from tight angles.

His tackling pressure this year has also been phenomenal.

It makes Betts the complete small forward and his performances have helped Adelaide climb the ladder.

Eddie loves the Crows and it shows in his performances, and the locals are turning up in droves to see him play.

Josh Gibson

Gibson requested a trade from the Kangaroos to go to Hawthorn in 2009 and since moving, he’s won three flags and two best-and-fairest awards.

Gibson has been crucial to the Hawks’ success with his smarts and know-how often placing him in the right place at the right time.

In 2016, he’s averaging 29 touches a week, a host of spoils and he is probably the best defender in the game today.

At his best when allowed to roam across half-back, Gibson and the Hawks seem well-placed to enjoy success again this year.

Heath Shaw

The Collingwood premiership player is now the chief commander in the GWS backline.

He is consistently among the best on ground for the Giants; he provides outstanding leadership for the club’s young players, and poise in pressure situations.

Turning 31 this year, Shaw was no stranger to controversy.

His future was uncertain at Collingwood after he missed eight games for his role in a betting scandal that rocked the AFL in 2011.

But GWS snapped him up in 2013 when he was up for trade and it has proved to be an inspired pick-up.

Moving cities has certainly assisted in Shaw’s longevity.

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Deryk Thomas also writes for footyprophet.com – football and fantasy analysis unravelled.

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