Retired Collingwood star Dane Swan has admitted to being surprised that North Melbourne’s Daniel Wells will probably join the Magpies under AFL free agency.
While Swan made it clear he respects Wells’ ability as a player, he questioned why the Magpies are recruiting a 31-year-old when they have let go of several older players.
North Melbourne announced on Monday that Wells was leaving the club, having rejected their offer of a two-year deal.
The Magpies are set to recruit him as an unrestricted free agent on a three-year contract.
Swan told AFL trade radio that Wells has great skill and outside speed, qualities that will help the Magpies, but the Brownlow Medallist clearly has mixed feelings.
“But I guess I was a bit surprised, like everyone else,” he said.
“We’ve obviously gotten rid of a lot of older players and I thought we’d be … getting some youth in the side, building with them.
“Is Wells in our next premiership side? I certainly hope he is, because that means we’re going to win one in the next couple of years.
“I don’t know how you can pass up if he wants to to come to the ‘Pies and the price is right, well, I don’t know how you can argue with that.”
While Wells has had injury problems, Magpies recruiting manager Derek Hine noted the speedster managed 19 senior games this season.
Hine also conceded they could do with more player experience, given their oldest player at the moment will be 28 if, as expected, Travis Cloke goes to the Western Bulldogs.
“I think we’ve got 26-27 players under 25,” Hine said.
“Daniel … finished fourth in (North’s) best and fairest and has clearly been a really high performer for a long period of time.”
Wells is the latest veteran to leave North, with Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Michael Firrito and Nick Dal Santo not offered new contracts.
That is 1588 games of AFL experience.
Meanwhile, Swan is confident the Magpies will soon improve as a team after three years out of the finals.
“All the trades we’ve had over the last couple of years, they need that continuity together and we haven’t had that,” Swan said.
“So I think over the next two seasons, you’re going to find a much better Collingwood outfit.
“Hopefully it happens (next) year, but I think 2018 is going to be the year where they really gel together.”