Melbourne veteran Bernie Vince has backed young teammate Jesse Hogan, saying the AFL Rising Star would have been silly to sign a new deal now.
Vince is confident the key forward will eventually agree to a new contract with the Demons, even though the WA native is sure to attract the attention of other clubs including Fremantle.
Late last month, it emerged that Hogan’s management had put off talks with the club until after this season.
Hogan’s camp wants to see the outcome of player collective bargaining agreement negotiations over the next few months.
While the 20-year-old Hogan is contracted until the end of next season, he is a once-in-a-generation player.
Captain Nathan Jones said the attention on Hogan’s contract was a circus and unwarranted.
Jones added the decision to delay contract talks might be a double-edged sword, but Vince backed the strategy.
“He loves it around the place,” Vince said on Thursday.
“He’d be silly to sign now – he might be able to squeeze a bit more money out of the club if he has another good year.”
There was also speculation that Demons defender Tom McDonald was putting off contract talks, in part to see how the team performs this year.
Vince, 30, is also impatient for Melbourne success.
“I’m in the same boat … I don’t have much time left in my footy career, either,” he said.
“I’m not just here to finish my footy career down the bottom.
“There are a whole number of players in our group who want to fast-track (the team).”
Hogan starred last year in his AFL debut and won the Rising Star award ahead of Carlton’s Patrick Cripps.
“We just have to remember, he’s only in his second year of AFL footy – people do quickly forget that,” Vince said.
“He’s certainly a special talent and we’ve known that for a fair while.
“But it’s just important to let him generate as a player.
“He might have a quiet patch to start with, you never know – young players tend to do that a little bit – and it’s just about time with him.”
Melbourne will rest Hogan for Sunday’s pre-season game against the Western Bulldogs, while Vince and Jones will return.