Carlton set to swoop on O'Keefe - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Carlton set to swoop on O'Keefe

By Sam Lienert 10/10/2008 07:22:22 PM Comments (0)

Carlton stand to be the massive winners out of AFL trade week and Sydney the big losers after the Blues on Friday put themselves in prime position to gain Swans star Ryan O'Keefe for nothing.

After a five-day exchange period in which a record low of six players switched clubs, it was O'Keefe's failed bid to move that is set to prove the most significant development.

A late swoop by the Blues stymied Hawthorn's attempts to do a deal with Sydney and meant the 2005 premiership star's only way of leaving the Swans is through the national or pre-season drafts.

It is likely he will seek to use that method to get to Carlton, after the Blues on Thursday night offered him a four-year contract worth significantly more than the three-year deal the Hawks had put on the table.

It caused O'Keefe to switch to the Blues as his preferred destination.

That late change of heart prompted Hawthorn to cease their dealing with the Swans on Friday morning, after having earlier tabled an offer of draft picks 16 and 50 in return for Sydney's selection 30 and O'Keefe.

Fuelling the belief that Carlton's aim was to pick up O'Keefe through the draft, Blues coach Brett Ratten said they had not made a serious attempt to trade with Sydney.

He said their focus had been on their successful effort to recruit young Fremantle ruckman Robert Warnock.

That trade was completed 15 minutes before Friday's deadline, with the Blues giving up their second round pick, No. 24 overall, as well as an exchange of lower order picks to sweeten the deal for the Dockers.

"We thought if we could get that (Warnock) deal done early in the week we might be a chance (to trade for O'Keefe), but it never happened," Ratten said.

But he said they would be delighted if they could now gain O'Keefe in the December 16 pre-season draft, as well as having kept their first round (No.6) national draft pick.

To do so, O'Keefe would have to nominate contract terms which would put him out of the reach of the five other clubs which have picks before the Blues in the pre-season draft.

"We'll sit down and (football manager) Steven (Icke) will have a look at our numbers and that," Ratten said.

"We had some interest in Ryan through the trade period and we'll see there, but if we could it would be fantastic."

It would continue a recent record of recruiting coups for the Blues.

Last year they picked up superstar Chris Judd in a trade from West Coast without having to relinquish their No.1 draft pick and also gained former Port Adelaide midfielder Nick Stevens in the pre-season draft ahead of the 2004 season, after the Power and Collingwood failed to close a trade deal.

Even if they do not gain O'Keefe, Carlton emerged as a big winner from the week, with the recruitment of Warnock the most significant of the six trade deals that did occur.

The others were the moves of midfielders Brent Prismall from Geelong to Essendon, Rhyce Shaw from Collingwood to Sydney, Farren Ray from the Western Bulldogs to St Kilda, Adam Thomson from Port Adelaide to Richmond and small forward Anthony Corrie from Brisbane to Collingwood.

Ratten said the acquisition of Warnock addressed one of Carlton's major deficiencies, as the AFL's worst-performed ruck brigade this year.

"We sit about 16th in hit-outs in the AFL, so with a player of 206cm I think that will help us dramatically," he said.

However, he warned the 21-year-old, 21-game player would not provide an instant fix, with his greatest value expected to be long-term.

The Blues' other problem area was a lack of support for Brendan Fevola up forward, where 27-year-old O'Keefe would be a huge help.

Swans recruiting manager Stuart Maxfield admitted Sydney were in a risky position after failing to strike a trade for the uncontracted forward, who expressed his desire to leave at the start of the week.

"It's really up to Ryan to make that decision whether he wants to remain at the Swans," Maxfield said.

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