Peel Thunder has secured de-listed Essendon speedster Jackson Merrett as they look to bounce back from a disappointing premiership defence.
The 25-year-old, who was cut by the Bombers in August after 56 games in seven seasons, will move west ahead of the 2019 WAFL season.
The Victorian native and older brother of gun Essendon midfielder Zach has a connection with the Mandurah club through close friend Ben Howlett, who won his second Tuckey Medal best-and-fairest this year when he tied with retired Docker Danyle Pearce, from their six seasons at Essendon together.
Drafted at pick 31 in the 2011 national draft, Merrett’s best season at AFL level was in 2015, when he played 15 games as a midfielder/half-forward.
He fell out of favour this year, playing just two games – in round five and six – before he was dropped back to the VFL where he remained for the rest of the season.
WAFL partner club rules meant Peel had to wait until after the national and rookie drafts before applying to recruit Merrett or any other former AFL player.
Peel’s seventh-place finish in 2018 means they can apply to recruit up to two former AFL players subject to WA Football Commission approval.
Meanwhile, West Coast have signed AFL academy graduate Matthew Ah Siu for their stand-alone WAFL side.
The former South Fremantle midfielder and state under-age representative, 22, played in the WAAFL C1 grade last season, winning Bullcreek-Leeming’s best and fairest.