Jaeger O’Meara would not be a Docker if not for Stephen Coniglio’s mid-trade period wedding.
There were plenty of pieces to this puzzle but the Giants co-captain’s nuptials in Sydney set the ball rolling, even though there was no actual trade talk with Coniglio’s best man on the night.
GWS list boss Jason McCartney was one of the guests and already knew of the strong bond between best mates O’Meara and Coniglio, as well as Toby Greene and other senior Giants with the ex-Hawks star.
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It wasn’t until the next day, last Sunday, that McCartney dialled agent-to-the-stars Tom Petroro’s number to chat about O’Meara, who still had a year to run on his contract.
Unbeknown to McCartney was that his Fremantle counterpart, David Walls, had already asked Hawthorn list manager Mark McKenzie if O’Meara could be part of the deal for Hawks-bound ruckman Lloyd Meek.
That happened before the trade period even started but McKenzie, at that stage, knocked the Dockers back, as they did with a handful of other players.
This detail is important for what came next.
McCartney and GWS elected to go full throttle on the O’Meara pursuit on Monday, having already traded out Tim Taranto, Tanner Bruhn and Bobby Hill – and with Jacob Hopper to soon join them.
They were keen not only on O’Meara the midfielder but also O’Meara the standard-bearer, leader and high-quality character.
It wasn’t the first time the Giants were keen on him, with ex-list boss Graeme ‘Gubby’ Allan trying to get O’Meara in the 2011 mini-draft, but AFL rules stated they had to trade those picks, which instead went to Gold Coast and Adelaide.
McCartney spoke with McKenzie early Monday afternoon and piqued his interest: pick 19 would be Hawthorn’s if O’Meara became a Giant.
It made perfect sense for GWS, because 19 was only the fourth-best of its draft selections.
The contingency was that the Hawks, who have bucketloads of salary cap room, would pay a sizeable chunk of his remaining wage in 2023.
Let’s rewind again.
Even though Hawthorn rejected the Dockers’ initial inquiries about O’Meara in the Meek negotiations, they still checked in with Petroro to gauge his interest.
Fremantle was aware O’Meara wanted to end his career back in Perth but assumed that opportunity would not come until he was a free agent, a belief only strengthened with this latest Petroro chat.
The 28-year-old was one of the few experienced footballers left on the Hawthorn list and felt he owed it to the Hawks to stick around.
In short: “Thanks for your interest, but it’s a no for now.”
McKenzie was pretty much straight onto the phone with Walls once the Giants’ O’Meara offer came in, knowing the Dockers had already shown interest.
Fremantle’s overtures were not considered before but here was its chance to re-enter the race.
O’Meara was back in Perth by then, with his girlfriend, Tory Packer, who is also from Western Australia.
Both GWS and the Dockers completed medical checks on O’Meara before Monday was over and each was more than satisfied with what they found.
The ball was in O’Meara’s court now, but he longer had the moral shackles of feeling like he had to stick around at Waverley Park, given the Hawks were happy for him to go.
O’Meara and Tory also own a house in Cottesloe, a Perth suburb, that one of Fremantle’s strength and conditioning staff is coincidentally renting.
A four-year offer to effectively be the retired David Mundy’s replacement sealed the deal, with Hawthorn paying a large slice of his salary for 2023.
He indicated about noon AEST time on Wednesday that he wanted to play for the Dockers.
But O’Meara and Petroro were careful to leave the door ajar, in case Fremantle couldn’t get the deal done – and the Giants kept trying until pretty late in the piece.
The trade ended up going down to the wire and was tied into the Josh Dunkley and Rory Lobb negotiations that involved Brisbane, the Dockers and Western Bulldogs.
The Dunkley and Lobb deals were finally agreed upon in the dying minutes, with the Dogs’ future second-round pick in the latter trade paving the way for O’Meara to join Fremantle.
The Hawks received that selection and Meek in return for O’Meara and a 2023 fourth-round pick, minutes after agreeing to send Tom Mitchell to Collingwood in a three-club deal.
O’Meara has the chance to win a premiership, while Hawthorn is committed to a full-scale rebuild and GWS has an army of picks, including No.1, to kickstart the Adam Kingsley era.