Tom Lynch wants to be a front runner. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images)
Tom Lynch wants to be a front runner. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Footy divided over star’s defection

AFL minor premiers Richmond appear to have won the three-way courtship for star free agent Tom Lynch - and it's dividing the league.

While the former Gold Coast captain remains weeks away from announcing his future, rival clubs Collingwood and Hawthorn are said to know already that they have missed out.

Commentator Nick Riewoldt congratulated the Tigers, but bemoaned how free agency has developed to the benefit of the stronger clubs.

Lynch's decision came down to three of this season's top-four clubs. "You just have to applaud them (Richmond), don't you?," Riewoldt told AFL360. "You can say what you like about the system and whether it's broken - free agency clearly has worked out better for the more powerful clubs, so that's clear now.

"For all the AFL is trying to do around equalisation, it's the antithesis of that.

"It's just working in direct contrast (to) what they're trying to achieve, but you just have to tip your hat to Richmond."

Commentator Bob Murphy bemoaned the state of free agency, remembering how frustrated he felt when Sydney recruited Lance Franklin on their monster nine- year deal.

"I remember being at the end of a bad year for the Dogs, we were going no good, and then the news has come through that Buddy has gone to the Swans," Murphy told AFL360.

"I remember sitting at the kitchen bench - it's almost like 'what's the point?' "We're battling, we can't pay the salary cap and the Swans can get Buddy for nine years - we may as well give up.

"I can just imagine there's a whole generation of players who sat there today going 'the Tigers can get Tom Lynch?'"

Tom Lynch. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Tom Lynch. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Essendon legend Tim Watson commended the Tigers' salary cap management for having room to sign one of the league's most sought after talents while competing for back-to-back flags.

"They've got five franchise players now. Trent Cotchin, Alex Rance, Jack Riewoldt, Dustin Martin and now Lynch," Watson told SEN.

"Then they've got to keep Shane Edwards who was just All-Australian, Kane Lambert who might be in their top five players, they've got great players in their backline like Dylan Grimes and other young players coming through.

"I mean, it's an amazing job they've been able to do there at Richmond."

"Next year they'll have Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt in their forward line," he added.

"It presents a good problem to play both those guys there. Tom Lynch with that sort of ball supply and in a great team like Richmond, how many goals could he kick?"

Fairfax reported on Thursday that Hawthorn and Collingwood had been told if they have trade priorities other than Lynch, they should chase those targets. That leaves Richmond as the surviving candidate.

The Tigers had been the favourites for several weeks to be Lynch's choice. The Suns stripped him of the co-captaincy early last month when he confirmed he wanted to return to his native Victoria.

But he is a restricted free agent, meaning plenty has to play out before Lynch arrives at Punt Rd.

Gold Coast can match a rival offer, meaning any club wanting to recruit Lynch must negotiate with them.

Jack Riewoldt. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Jack Riewoldt. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)