Gun Melbourne forward Jesse Hogan has kept his long-term AFL options open, re-signing with the Demons for two seasons.
The new deal keeps last year’s Rising Star winner at Melbourne until the end of 2019 and is a major boost for the rebuilding club.
But by not signing a longer-term agreement, Hogan should be well-placed in three years if he wants to return to his native WA.
There was growing speculation that Fremantle would try to snare Hogan after next season, particularly when it emerged in February that he and the Demons had put their contract talks on hold.
Now, Hogan has another three years of AFL development and will also have a strong idea by the end of 2019 about how Melbourne are faring.
The 21-year-old has played 41 senior games since his debut last year and is one of the keys to the Demons’ immediate future.
Hogan said he believed the club had a big future under new coach Simon Goodwin.
“Melbourne is where I want to be,” he said in a club statement on Tuesday.
“I really like the city and I’m really excited about what we can do together as a footy club.
“Goody has been great; we’ve got a really close relationship and I think he is going to be great for me personally next year and the rest of the boys as well.”
Hogan said the contract extension meant he could now concentrate on football.
Melbourne football manager Josh Mahoney admitted relief that the deal was done.
“We were pretty confident the whole way through, all the conversations we had with Jesse, that he was happy with th environment, that he can see the talented list we were building together and he’d want to stay long-term,” Mahoney told SEN.
But it’s always good to get the signature.”
While Hogan’s form faded in the last five games, he was still the leading Melbourne goalkicker this season with 41.
“Key forwards are really hard to find and once you find one, you have to make sure they stay for as long as you can,” Mahoney said.
“You build teams around them.”