Australian News

Joe Daniher to leave Essendon to join Brisbane Lions ahead of 2021 AFL season

Joe Daniher will leave Essendon to join Brisbane after the Bombers chose not to match the Lions’ offer for the key forward.

The Bombers will receive a first-round draft selection as compensation, with the Lions currently holding pick seven.

Brisbane submitted its offer for restricted free agent Daniher late on Friday afternoon.

The Bombers had three days to decide whether they would match it and force a trade, however they decided not to stand in Daniher’s way, given what they are set to receive in return.

Daniher informed the Bombers earlier this month he wanted to leave the club, with the Lions his preferred destination.

Earlier on Friday, Hawthorn triple-premiership winger Isaac Smith departed the Hawks to join grand finalist Geelong as an unrestricted free agent on a two-year deal.

The Hawks confirmed Smith, 31, would depart after 210 senior matches with the club, a stint that included playing a crucial role in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 premierships.

Hawthorn was keen to keep Smith, while Melbourne was also in the race for his services before Geelong won out.

“It’s been a very difficult decision, incredibly hard and [I] probably had a few sleepless nights over the last three or four nights to be honest,” Smith said.

“The heart was certainly pulling me towards Hawthorn but in the end the head won and I’m up for a new challenge, a new journey and I’m very excited to be part of the Geelong Football Club.”

Isaac Smith celebrates a goal for the Hawks
Isaac Smith will no longer be wearing the brown and gold of Hawthorn.(AAP: Julian Smith)

Hawthorn and Geelong enjoyed a fierce rivalry for much of Smith’s time at the Hawks.

“Certainly coming up against them, there was a real dislike between the playing groups and the clubs, but the other thing was, there was a hell a lot of respect,” he said.

Smith infamously missed a set shot after the siren in a two-point loss to the Cats in the 2016 qualifying final, while he went wide with another seconds before the final siren in a three-point loss the following season.

“I guess I’ve already won them two games of footy, so I’m guessing the Cats fans will be happy,” Smith joked.

Greater Western Sydney’s Williams is one step closer to joining Carlton, with the Blues lodging paperwork for the restricted free agent with the AFL on Friday.

Williams, 26, expressed his desire to join the Blues in September after 113 matches for GWS.

The free agency window opened on Friday morning, with Gold Coast kicking off proceedings by lodging a contract offer to Adelaide’s Rory Atkins.

As an unrestricted free agent, Atkins can join the Suns immediately, with the AFL confirming the Crows will receive an end-of-second-round draft pick as compensation.

Atkins played 101 matches for Adelaide, including the 2017 grand final loss, but made just four AFL appearances this season.


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Joe Daniher tells Essendon he wants to join Brisbane Lions to continue AFL career

Key forward Joe Daniher has told Essendon he wants to leave the club to join the Brisbane Lions from next season.

Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro said Daniher wanted to live a quieter life away from Victoria.

“We put forward a contract offer to Joe, but he has expressed his strong desire to live away from Melbourne,” Dodoro said in a club statement.

“We understand that free agency is part of our industry and he has a right to explore his options.”

The Lions released a statement saying they were “excited” Daniher had nominated the club as “his preferred new home”.

“The club will work its way through the process of free agency with the AFL during the free agency trade period,” a Lions statement said.

“As a club our number one priority at the moment is our finals campaign and focusing on our preparation toward this.”

It is the second year in a row that the injury plagued Daniher has requested a move away from the Bombers.

Daniher was set on joining Sydney last off-season, but the Bombers and Swans could not agree on a suitable trade.

The 26-year-old is a restricted free agent this year, so Essendon could choose to match any deal the Lions offer.

Daniher has been limited to 15 matches across the last three seasons after battling a range of injury problems.

In his most recent injury-free campaign — in 2017 — he kicked 65 goals and was named in the All-Australian side.

He also won Essendon’s best-and-fairest in the same season.

Daniher has kicked 191 goals in 108 matches for the Bombers since making his senior debut in 2013.

The Bombers’ confirmation of Daniher’s desire to leave the club comes a day after the club announced defender Adam Saad wanted to join Carlton.


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Essendon beats Hawthorn by 16 points in incredible AFL comeback win as Joe Daniher kicks three goals

Joe Daniher has sparked Essendon to a stunning 16-point comeback win over Hawthorn in his first AFL match in almost 15 months.

Daniher kicked three goals as the Bombers overturned a 36-point deficit at half-time to win 13.9 (87) to 10.11 (71) in Thursday’s twilight match at Adelaide Oval.

The lanky forward booted 3.3 and took several strong grabs as the Bombers revived their season by snapping a five-match winless streak to rise to ninth on the ladder.

Hawthorn’s loss was soured by luckless Jonathon Patton suffering another injury.

Patton’s season could be over after hobbling from the field in the opening quarter with a suspected right calf injury.

The former number one draft pick, who underwent three knee reconstruction operations while with Greater Western Sydney, will have scans on Friday.

Patton had only returned to action last Saturday after being sidelined for six matches by a hamstring strain.

Hawthorn led 7.10 to 2.4 at half-time after scoring from 17 of their 22 inside 50s in the half.

But Daniher, who has been cruelled by a groin injury since his last match in round nine last year, played an inspired second half.

The Bombers booted five goals to one to trail by nine points at three-quarter-time.


Daniher’s purple patch began with a trademark high grab on the wing in the third stanza.

Minutes later, he marked low down, casually converted around his body and was mobbed by teammates.

Daniher soon added two more marks only to blaze set shots wide, but laced-out Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti for another major.

And in the tense last quarter, with his side four points up with less than four minutes remaining, Daniher goaled again.

He then capped his fairytale comeback by snapping the last major of the match to seal a remarkable win.

Essendon’s Zach Merrett was outstanding with 36 disposals, ably supported by Ashley McGrath (32 possessions), Kyle Langford (27 touches) and Dylan Shiel (25 disposals).

Bombers Jake Stringer, Cale Hooker and Dylan Clarke each booted two goals.

Hawthorn’s Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell was his side’s chief ball-winner with 27 disposals, while teammates Tom Scully, Jack Gunston and Daniel Howe slotted two majors apiece.

The Hawks meet winless Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Tuesday evening, with Essendon playing West Coast in Brisbane later that night.


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Joe Daniher to make AFL return for Essendon Bombers

Essendon forward Joe Daniher will make his long-awaited return to AFL football against Hawthorn at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday evening.

Bombers coach John Worsfold confirmed Daniher would play against the Hawks, provided he gets through a light training session on Wednesday morning.

Daniher, 26, hasn’t played since round nine, 2019 due to recurring groin issues and unsuccessfully sought a trade to Sydney at the end of last season.

“The good news is we are expecting him to play,” Worsfold told reporters on Wednesday.

“So we’ve obviously got a light session this morning but we’re really excited that Joe’s done the work to be available, ready to step back up and play some footy — which is great for Joe, great for us [and] great for footy.”

Given the limited nature of scratch matches this year, Essendon opted to bring Daniher straight back into their AFL side after building his loads through competitive training sessions.

Worsfold said Daniher would have been ready to play earlier, if not for a minor calf strain, and the forward was “comfortable and excited” for his return.

Daniher is out of contract and a restricted free agent at season’s end.

Worsfold said he hadn’t directly spoken to Daniher about re-signing but emphasised there was “no panic” at Essendon’s end, and contract discussions would happen “at the right time”.

“Obviously Joe knows the club wants him to stay. We’d love him to play out his whole career at the Essendon footy club,” he said.

“But there’s going to be a new coach next year, and those discussions are going to be more heavily involved with Ben [Rutten] and our list management group going forward.

“Obviously, it rests with Joe’s desires mainly.”

The Bombers are set for further injury relief, with Cale Hooker and Conor McKenna poised to return against Hawthorn, while Dyson Heppell is on the comeback trail.

Worsfold wouldn’t be drawn on whether those inclusions could bolster Essendon’s flagging finals hopes.

“Our first focus is to just go through the normal protocols of getting these guys back playing,” Worsfold said.

“They’re desperate to play — Joe’s been working his backside off to get himself back to reignite his footy career.

“So we’re just excited about that, and Dyson, he’s just itching to be back out there playing with the guys.

“So whether that’s [in] another two or three games we don’t know yet — we’ll just keep progressing him.”


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