Sport

Free agents cream of the AFL crop

Jordan Russell of the Blues spoils a mark by Ahmed Saad of the Saints during the round seven AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Carlton Blues at Etihad Stadium.
Jordan Russell of the Blues spoils a mark by Ahmed Saad of the Saints during the round seven AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Carlton Blues at Etihad Stadium. Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

A FEW weeks ago I wrote an article on one of the more ruthless aspects of the playing industry of AFL - the reshuffling of the playing list.

This year at Carlton, we said goodbye to many people through delisting, injury-forced delisting and, for the first time in VFL/AFL history, out-of-contract players informing their clubs that they would like to test their value in the waters of free agency.

At the beginning of the year, the AFL released this media statement to clarify the rules of free agency:

"Under the rules that were agreed between the AFL and AFL Players Association (AFLPA) in February 2010, restricted and unrestricted free agents may consider offers from rival clubs during the post-season period, following the 2012 Toyota AFL Premiership Season.

"An offer to a player only includes capped salary and capped ASA (Additional Service Agreements) amounts."

In summary, the difference between restricted and unrestricted free agents is that the former is bound can have their current club match any opposing offers made by other clubs.

If you ever the chance to look up who the free agents are for this coming off-season, you'll see a number of high-quality players.

This year, Carlton HAS let go two free agents in search of a new home, both with plenty to offer at whichever club they may find themselves by 2013.

One of these is not only a great mate of mine, but quite possibly the biggest steal a club could make during this revolutionary period.

Jordan Russell came down to Carlton, as a fresh-faced, unassuming young bloke from the 'province' of West Adelaide, having been picked ninth overall in 2004 National Draft.

Rocking up alongside his good mate Hamish Hartlett, who quickly spread Jordan's childhood name of 'Noof' upon arrival, Carlton recruiting staff described the Noof as "a slimly-built, free-running and pacy wingman".

In his debut year as, Noof found his feet in the VFL with the Northern Bullants, at first up forward, but later across half back, where a string of consistent efforts eventually brought a call-up to Carlton's senior team.

He made his debut in Round 15, 2005 while Dennis Pagan was still at the helm, against St. Kilda in a debut he quickly forgot.

Noof only had 30 minutes of game time off the bench, had a few touches as he and his team-mates were put the sword by 80 points.

He was dropped next week, yet shrugged it off quickly.

He had a solid belief that he had plenty more to offer at the top level, it was just going to take some more pre-seasons and few more gym sessions.

He was right in a sense; Noof accumulated ten more games in 2006, highlights including a game starting on the ground against Hawthorn and his first career goal against Fremantle.

Whilst Carlton itself tried to find it's way out of a five-year slump, bolstered by high draft picks, key trades and a new coach in Brett Ratten, the Blues were once again on the rise, and Russell's emergence as a creative defensive sweeper was one of the factors.

Established in Carlton's best 22 at half-back, he averaged 19 matches per year between 2007 and 2009, with a handy aggregate of 13 goals over the same period. He could play in the midfield

2009 was the breakout year, Noof finished sixth in the club best and fairest, playing defensive shut down jobs in the midfield and down back.

Despite being dropped mid-season, it was the blessing in disguise and the kick up the bum that, by his own admission, Noof needed.

Hip surgery, consistency and form curtailed Noof's next couple of seasons given that both internal and external expectations had risen.

This year, I became lucky enough to meet Noof.

It was ability to converse with everyone off-field in a positive manner and be so respected by his work ethic on the training track that saw him initiated into the leadership group for the 2012 season.

It was amazing, Noof admitted he had a disappointing year in regards to performance in 2011, but he was a leader nonetheless.

Again 2012, was again disappointing for Noof. In conversations with him, Noof felt he was thinking too much.

That when he got the ball, a million thoughts raced through his mind at once.

The result was a turnover by foot or hand, or being run down. The game hadn't passed him, but its complexity made him start doubting himself.

For the young boys at the club who were plying their trade in the VFL, Noof's regular presence down there was invaluable.

Within the Carlton sanctum, young rookie Frazer Dale nominated Noof as his mentor and flourished under his care and tutorage.

For regular Northern Blues players, 20-year-olds Kane Lambert and Adam Marcon - both in line for the draft this year - have pointed to Noof as an on-field mentor and the main reason they excelled this year.

Off-field, in my 19 years of existence. I've never met a genuinely nicer bloke.

His ability to start a conversation with anyone regardless of gender, interests or age, is amazing.

He has an infectious laugh, to match a laid-back personality where everyone in the room is included.

It is for these off-field qualities - as well as just being 25 and with plenty to offer on-field - that Jordan Russell will be one of the biggest steals when the Free Agency period rolls around from October 1 to October 19.

For mentoring and easing young blokes into the rigors of professional AFL, there's never been anyone better.

Noof's felt the elation of consistent football and all of the positives that come out of being a regular selection in an AFL side.

He also knows full well the disappointment of being no longer required at an AFL club and baring the full brunt of supporter's frustration as he walks off the ground.

I plead to the other 17 AFL clubs that you could make far worse decisions than to pick up my mate Noof.

I may make the condition that he stays in Melbourne, because this is one man that you will want both in your professional and personal life as a friend, team-mate, or mentor.

Topics:  afl aussie rules carlton blues sport



Ain’t no mountain high enough

GOING on a hike is one of the best ways to get active and outdoors and the big smoke Brisbane is dishing up the goods.

Brisbane's arts and culture events centre stage

You loved the film, now you're about to love the musical. Don't miss The Bodyguard The Musical in Brisbane this July.

THE arts and culture events you don't want to miss.

A whisky-lover's blueprint to Brisbane's best bars

Check out The Gresham for some old-school fine drops.

SCOTCH, Whiskey and Whisky; it all gets a bit confusing.

Your guide to the best Brisbane markets

Enjoy the beautiful offerings of one of Brisbane's many markets.

WHO doesn’t love a good market!?

8 things you didn't know you could do at North Straddie

Watch these guys while you enjoy the magical sunset of an evening.

NORTH Stradbroke Island is the perfect getaway.

Our six art gallery picks for a creative day out

Queensland's Gallery of Modern Art always has a fun, exciting and interesting exhibition on show for the whole family to enjoy.

YOU'D be mistaken in thinking Brisbane wasn't an arty city.

Six hideaway bars to escape winter chill

The Gresham's charm will win you over before your first sip.

THESE are the perfect places to hang this winter.

Surf Scene: Piper plays a winning tune

Coolangatta 16-year-old Piper Harrison carved to victory at the Queensland Open State women's title at D'bah.

"This has been a dream of mine for ages”

Tweed shooting victim known as 'the enforcer'

Ace Hall was shot in the stomach and later died. Picture: Facebook.

Ace John Anthony Hall, 31, died after being shot in the stomach

Tweed shooting: Labor stands by its anti-bikie laws

Ace Hall was known to police.

Sources said Mr Hall was known in the drug scene as an “enforcer”.

Local Partners

Blueberries help property market boom

Rural property market reflects expansion of blueberry industry into the Clarence and growth in the cattle market


REVEALED: Meet our five Ninja Warriors

TWEED HEADS: Upcoming TV Series Ninja Warrior contestant Jaymes Wright.

Australian TV series starts next month on Channel Nine

Bundy mum blogging to get families offline

FAMILY FUN: Deonie Crowther is holding family craft sessions at the Windmill Cafe in Bargara.

Crafty projects a hit with parents and children

Take luxury food, wine tour around Toowoomba

FOODIE CULTURE: Emily Moon (left) and Cheryse Bliesner with the Hummer used for Toowoomba's Luxury Food and Wine Tour.

It is designed to highlight the best produce the region has to offer

Pressure of fish fry feast too much for Ipswich cook

NICOLE Stevenson narrowly misses out on MasterChef's Top 10 but local dad Ben Ungermann makes the cut.

Schapelle Corby's Bali boyfriend 'lonely' now she's free

“I really hope we can see each other again in the future."

‘One of the most ludicrous films ever made’

Optimus Prime in Transformers: The Last Knight.

Transformers: The Last Knight has been shredded by critics.

Transformers movie bombs to horror opening week

Optimus Prime in a scene from, "Transformers: The Last Knight."

Transformers 5 had the worst opening in the franchise’s history

How 9/11 helped make Waleed Aly a household name

Waleed Aly and Susan Carland at the 2016 Logie Awards

“It feels like there was a script written for me,” he said.

Pixar weighs in on viral Toy Story theory

Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.

DID Andy’s dad tragically die just before the story took place?

Major German supermarket set to open in southeast Queensland

German supermarket giant Kaufland is understood to have approached southeast Queensland councils about a possible distribution centre, which would kickstart the establishment of new supermarkets.

Supermarket giant Kaufland has its eyes firmly on Queensland.

Ocean views up for sale at Bargara Rise

LAND RELEASE: Rob Sergiacomi on site at the Bargara Rise development off Watsons Road Bargara.

More ocean-view land comes on the market at Bargara

Gateway to $3 billion, 4800 home new Coast city opens

The start of Peter Crosby Way at Sippy Downs, the northern access into the Harmony master-planned community at Palmview.

Palmview's $3b master-planned community of Harmony

Millionaire Nathan Birch to offload $55M in property

Nathan Birch wants to focus more on developing properties.

Sydney property investor has announced he is selling up

Fame factor boosts property prices in Byron

The stunning Clarke's Beach in Byron Bay.

House prices surge by an incredible 39.5% in star-studded area

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!