» Pearce Hanley Signs Brisbane Contract Extension

19 Aug

Pearce Hanley Signs Brisbane Contract Extension

Posted by Colm Duffy in The Irish Experiment | Aug 2013

Mayo Man Inks Five Year Deal

Pearce Hanley has agreed a contract with his club the Brisbane Lions that will tie him to the club for the next five years. The announcement puts an end to speculation that Hanley may have been considering leaving the Lions at the end this season, with expansion club the GWS Giants and a number of Melbourne based clubs all mooted to have expressed an interest in him.

The length of the deal has come as a surprise to many observers with contract lengths of two and three years considered the norm in the AFL. By way of comparison Hanley’s fellow Lions stars Daniel Rich and Matthew Leunberger, who both agreed new deals in recent weeks of three and two years respectively despite both being in a similar age bracket to the Irishman and all three sharing Paul Connors as an agent. While contracts of this length are not completely unprecedented (Sam Reid, a teammate of Tommy Walsh at the Sydney Swans signed a five extension at the end of 2011) it is a mark of how much Hanley’s reputation has grown in the past couple of seasons that the Lions were willing to commit to such a deal with a player who first played the game of Aussie Rules just six short years ago.

Given the introduction of the AFL free agency system in recent years and clubs’ abhorrence to allow players who they have developed into stars of the competition walk away in return for minimal compensation, long-term contracts such as the one Hanley has agreed to may become more and more popular in future. It does, of course, represent something of a risk for both player and club; the Lions have committed a significant amount of cash and salary cap (he is now among Brisbane’s top earners) to a player who could lose form or sustain long term injuries in the next five years, while Hanley, should he continue his remarkable progress, could legitimately command megabucks on the open market in the coming years.

All Australian

Well in the frame for a first All Australian selection and club Best & Fairest award this year, Hanley’s performance graph has shown no signs of plateauing following two seasons of rapid development and two consecutive Top 5s in the Lions’ Best & Fairest in 2011 and 2012. In fact he, along with the aforementioned Rich and Leunberger, and other young stars Jack Redden, Tom Rockliff and Sam Mayes are expected to be at the forefront of the Lions’ push for a Premiership in the coming years, in spite of the surprising dismissal of coach Michael Voss last week.

Today’s news marks the high point so far of an incredible journey for Hanley, 24, from Ballaghaderreen on the Mayo-Roscommon border. Earmarked as a potential Aussie Rules convert by AFL recruiters after winning the Ron Barassi medal for player of the series in the U-17 International Rules contest in 2005, he was drafted by the Brisbane Lions in the 2008 Rookie Draft. Hanley made three appearances in his first two seasons at the club but it wasn’t until the second half of 2010 that Hanley cemented a regular spot in the first team. Since then his exciting brand of free-running football has endeared him to the Lions’ faithful and, particularly in 2013, made him a genuine star of the AFL.

While Mayo supporters will bear an obvious disappointment that they may not see Hanley in the green and red any time soon, there will no doubt be a certain level of pride at seeing a local lad rise to the very top of the Australian game.

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