Retired Bombers forward Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti is considering a return to the AFL, with Fremantle leading Essendon in the race for the livewire, according to three-time Coleman medallist Matthew Lloyd.
McDonald-Tipungwuti announced his retirement in May this year after 126 senior games for the Bombers since 2016, booting 153 goals over that span.
It came after the 29-year old cult hero dealt with personal matters over the past year, having not appeared at AFL level since Round 21 on 2021 before struggling to get back to full fitness.
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Daniel reports if he decided to join the Dockers, McDonald-Tipungwuti would join the club after the draft as a train-on player.
Speaking on AFL Trade Radio, McDonald-Tipungwuti’s manager Scott Lucas confirmed his client was in early discussions about a possible return.
“I think it’s fair to say there’s quite a lot of water to go under the bridge, but it is something that he’s contemplating,” he said.
“He has had a very brief, informal chat to Freo through a couple of existing relationships there and then of course he’s also still an Essendon player at this stage despite being retired, they had a rather informal chat to him about his thinking.
“That’s really where it sits at the moment and something we’ll work through with both parties and more importantly with Anthony himself.”
Lucas indicated changes in McDonald-Tipungwuti’s personal life had led to the renewed desire for the game.
“Some personal circumstances have changed it’s fair to say, which has meant he’s had the opportunity or the inclination to reconsider. With that in mind, I think he’s in a really good headspace,” he said.
“I think physically he’s also in a better position that perhaps he was at the end of his time at Essendon. We’ll just work through it all and see where it leads.”
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Lloyd earlier revealed McDonald-Tipungwuti attended Essendon’s best and fairest awards on Monday night and is now eyeing a return to the top level to potentially make the move west.
“He is contemplating a return back to football to play AFL next year,” Lloyd said on AFL Trade Radio.
“Essendon is very keen for him to re-join Essendon, but leading the race to have Anthony next year are the Fremantle Dockers.
“Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti is considering a move to Western Australia to play for Fremantle if he does decide he’s going to put the work in and play AFL football again.
“Both both the Bombers would like him to play and Fremantle leading the race currently.”
Under current rules, a retired player needs to nominate for the draft and then, if not picked up in the draft, can be selected as a delisted free agent during the Supplemental Selection Period.
The Tiwi Islands product led the club’s goalkicking in 2020 with 19 goals from 17 shortened matches, while he followed it up with a career-best return of 34 majors last year from 20 games.
He broke the record for consecutive games played at Essendon in the AFL era with 126.
“I guess it’s been a hard few weeks for myself, just where I see myself in my life and it’s been hard fighting with your head and your heart,” he said in May when he announced his retirement to his teammates.
“I’ve come to the stage where my heart’s telling me it’s the right decision to make.
“Even though it’s sad, I think I’m happy within myself to come to a decision where it’s time for me to move on from football.
“I’ll miss this club, I love this club so much. It gave me the opportunity to share my dream and I’m going to miss every one of you.
“A big dream was to get an education and from there to pursue my dream of playing AFL football and growing up that’s what I wanted to do.
“Even though it’s sad for me, I’m happy to make a decision where I think it’s best for me in my life right now.”