Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti is reportedly closing in on a return to Essendon, despite retiring from the game less than six months ago.
The Bombers cult figure shocked the AFL in May when he made a teary farewell, but according to reports his “circumstances have changed” for 2023.
McDonald-Tipungwuti met with Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir in recent weeks for a “brief, informal chat”, and has family in Perth, but the club would only be offering a train-on spot.
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It’s now been revealed Essendon is prepared to re-list McDonald-Tipungwuti “if he can prove he is fit enough”, according to the Herald Sun.
“Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, a cult figure at Essendon, he’s given the game away but he’s now keen to come back to Essendon,” journalist Mark Stevens said on RSN Radio on Tuesday.
“His options have run out elsewhere.
“There’s not a lot of love at Freo – (they) offered him a train-only so no guarantee of a spot on the list.”
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Stevens said McDonald-Tipungwuti was “doing a lot of work” to prove his fitness to Bombers officials.
“Essendon supporters would be pretty excited,” he said.
“You’d give him another crack wouldn’t you?
“He’s got the X-factor.
“His personal circumstances have changed. Off field is more positive.”
AFL clubs have until November 10 to classify players as retired and remove them from the list.
McDonald-Tipungwuti’s manager Scott Lucas last month confirmed the forward was in “a really good head space” to return to his best football.
“I think it’s fair to say quite a lot of water has to go under the bridge,” Lucas said on AFL Trade Radio.
“(A return to the AFL) is something he’s contemplating.
“He’s an Essendon player still at this stage, despite being retired.”
Lucas admitted there was a “fair bit to pay out” should McDonald-Tipungwuti officially declare he wants to return to the game.
Should the forward wish to fight for a chance at Fremantle, he’d need to be delisted by the Bombers and likely end up as a SSP pick up early next year.
Lucas said it was “more straightforward” if McDonald-Tipungwuti wanted to remain at Essendon.
“I think there’s a keenness there of course. (New coach) Brad Scott comes in and looks at him as a talented player who sits on their list,” he said.
“He’s in a really good head space and physically he’s also in a better position than perhaps he was at the end of his time at Essendon.
“We’ll work through it all and see where it leads.”