Dawson walks out on Saints
St Kilda’s salary cap squeeze has cost the AFL club fullback Zac Dawson, but five other players have agreed to new contracts.
Dawson, 25, a member of the Saints’ 2009 and 2010 grand final sides, is now expected to attempt to join Fremantle through the draft with his ex-St Kilda coach Ross Lyon in charge of the Dockers.
But Sean Dempster, Farren Ray, Brett Peake, Dean Polo and Raph Clarke have all agreed to new deals with the Saints.
And veteran utility Jason Blake will stay with the club, despite having to be delisted, then re-drafted, to move him from the veterans list to the primary list for salary cap reasons.
St Kilda’s head of football Chris Pelchen said it was important to keep together the nucleus of the side that has delivered a club record four consecutive finals appearance.
“We are extremely pleased to have finalised our primary list ahead of the 2011 AFL national draft,” Pelchen said.
“These players have indicated their commitment to the Saints, supporting the future direction of the St Kilda Football Club.”
The Saints confirmed Dawson had rejected their contract offer and had told the club he will seek opportunities elsewhere.
Dawson’s exit further depletes St Kilda’s key position stocks, following the loss of emerging Irish tall player Tommy Walsh, who was traded to Sydney in October.
New Fremantle coach Lyon was behind Dawson’s second chance at an AFL career with St Kilda after he spent five years at Hawthorn for just 14 games before being delisted by the Hawks.
Dawson established himself as a regular with the Saints, playing 63 games in three seasons.
But there is no guarantee he will reach Fremantle through November’s national draft or December’s pre-season draft.
While he can nominate contract and salary terms agreed to by Fremantle, other clubs such as Greater Western Sydney, who have draft picks before the Dockers, can recruit him on those terms.