The Western Bulldogs have now missed out on recruiting Jack Martin, Jarman Impey and Chad Wingard in successive seasons, highlighting the challenges the club faces in attracting indigenous players.
Western Bulldogs have struck out on another indigenous player with unfulfilled talent Jack Martin set to join Carlton.
The Bulldogs tabled Martin the most generous offer — as much as $700,000 per season for five years — but the outside ball winner has rejected overtures from Whitten Oval and Fremantle, leaving the Blues in pole position to strike a trade.
Martin, 24, will still earn a long-term deal at the Blues but will play for less cash, joining indigenous players Sam Petrevski-Seton and former Dog Liam Jones.
It is the third time in as many years that the Dogs have failed to recruit an indigenous talent, largely because they do not have any indigenous players on their list.
In 2017 they heavily pursued Port Adelaide utility Jarman Impey, who dined with Bulldog leaders including Marcus Bontempelli at Crown Casino as he mulled their contract offer.
Impey’s close friend, Jackson Trengove, had signed at the Dogs as a free agent in recent weeks and was pushing Impey to join him.
But when Impey learned that there weren’t any indigenous players at the Bulldogs he instead accepted Hawthorn’s offer, where he played alongside superstars Cyril Rioli and Shaun Burgoyne.
The following year Chad Wingard was choosing between the Dogs and Hawks, but with Impey at Waverley Park and still no indigenous stars at the Dogs, the dual All-Australian picked Hawthorn.
Dogs president Peter Gordon has conceded that the club’s lack of indigenous players was likely to have dented their hopes of landing Wingard.
But the Bulldogs boast an elite welfare system and recently had Brett Goodes helping drive the change as the club’s indigenous liason officer.
“We can’t solve that problem overnight and we have tried to take a multi-faceted approach to it,” Gordon said recently.
“We might potentially draft two or three (indigenous players) in any particular year and they will be a part of a sea change of the history and culture of the club.
The Bulldogs have priority access to indigenous teenage sensation Jamarra Ugle-Hagan through their academy and are keen to draft the key forward in 2020.
Missing out on Martin will only strengthen the Dogs’ chances of securing bookends Josh Bruce (St Kilda) and Alex Keath (Adelaide).
The Dogs boast a war chest and Bruce appears certain to cross on a long-term deal, possibly in exchange for a second-round pick.
Martin played with Carlton captain and former WA junior Patrick Cripps as a junior and feels he could easily feel at home at the Blues.
The pair played in the Under-15 schoolboys together with Martin at boarding school in Geraldton, 30 minutes away from Cripps’ home town of Northampton.
It is another sign of Cripps’ powerful stature as Carlton’s co-captain when players like Martin are keen to be in his orbit.
Gold Coast will request a first-round pick from the Blues, who could need pick 8 to get Tom Papley.
It means they will have challenges in securing Papley and Martin, with the Blues also linked to Dan Butler and Sydney ruckman Darcy Cameron.
Martin has been a frustrating player who has not yet maximised his potential despite two top-three best-and-fairest finishes, no one doubts his talent.
Carlton is still investigating pursuing former star Eddie Betts but will not offer him a deal past one season and Adelaide won’t pay him to play somewhere else.