Staunch rivals West Coast and Fremantle are in for an aggressive off-field bidding war to win the playing services of athletic Greater Western Sydney ruckman Rory Lobb.
West Coast management is bracing for up to 12 months of life without star big man Nic Naitanui after he suffered a dreaded anterior cruciate ligament injury in Friday night’s win over champions Hawthorn in Perth and to trigger contingency plans to stay in premiership contention next season.
Eagles powerbrokers are certain to escalate attempts to lure Lobb back to his home state as a top priority.
Fremantle recruiting agents are already believed to have lodged substantial interest in winning Lobb.
The powerhouse Giants follower is set for a substantial pay rise in the region of twice his current contract and into a range well in excess of $600,000 a season.
One estimate from AFL insiders has linked Fremantle with a potential offer in the region of $700,000 a year from next season.
Dockers are expected to have significant room within their salary cap estimates with departure of veteran champion Matthew Pavlich as well as free agents Chris Mayne and Zac Clarke as well as up to another 10 servants expected to be cut in a savage cleanout of the existing playing list.
West Coast probably have more appealing alternatives on their list to trade players around the league to win crucial drafts picks the Giants are likely to want in any possible switch for Lobb.
Lobb, 23, appeals to West Coast and Dockers recruiting plans as one of the most versatile big men in the business and quite possibly the AFL’s most improved player this season.
He is already one of the most reliable contested marking stars in the game, with an average of around three a game as well as his 10 disposals a week and 26 goals in the big scoring Giants forward pack.
Lobb has played all 21 Giants games this season in launching his arrival as a potential on-ball star after nine outings last season and just two engagements in his initiation after being recruited at number 29 overall in the second round of the 2013 national draft.
West Coast and Fremantle are understood to have had no interest in the then gangly ruckman from Perth’s rich Swan Valley wine district.
An ambitious Dockers recruitment model has already been linked with efforts to win the Swan Districts product to offer critical ruck back-up to ageing champion monster Aaron Sandilands who is expected to enter his final AFL season next year.
Lobb is not out of contract until the end of next season, with Giants management expected to resist prospects of losing the emerging and popular big man, as promising key forward Cam McCarthy is also on the brink of a switch to Fremantle for next season.
But the 206cm versatile and big-marking Lobb is understood to be willing to consider a switch back home.
Giants officials must budget next season with around $600,000 reduction in their salary cap under AFL agreements at the conclusion of the formation franchise’s first five years in the league as well as loss of helpful cost of living allowances to players.
Lobb has already expressed to close confidants he is willing to consider tempting offers to return west.
He is not expected to consider any switch other than back home to either West Coast or Fremantle.
His ability to play as high-leaping lead ruckman, key marking forward or even a creative free-wheeling midfielder or back liner, adds substantial appeal to Lobb’s all-round capabilities.
His array of flexible skills and elite fitness category was on show in successive weeks against West Coast in a gut-wrenching one-point loss when Naitanui snatched a last-gasp win with a goal right on the final siren and again on Saturday as the Giants smashed an under-manned Dockers by 92 points.
Naitanui, 26, is tipped to have a conventional reconstruction to his damaged left knee and then a full 12-month recovery program.
Critical ruck and forward zone marking back-up is now on Eagles recruiting agenda to support emerging big man Scott Lycett in Naitanui’s projected 12-month absence.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.