The West Australian Football Commission is considering an exemption to allow Matthew Parker to return to play for South Fremantle – but he may still be ineligible to play finals.
The WAFC held talks with AFL officials on Parker and East Fremantle’s Luke Strnadica on Tuesday afternoon. The former Bulldog had parted company, effectively immediately, with the Tigers to return to WA for personal and family reasons.
Strnadica had left West Coast the previous week after being added to the Eagles list at the end of the pre-season.
The AFL has a precedent for an exemption with Carlton’s Tom Williamson quitting the Blues but playing with North Melbourne’s VFL team.
Parker returned to play finals for South Fremantle last year because he was a listed Bulldogs player at the time.
He may need a further exemption to play finals because the eligibility criteria requires him to play six games and two of the last eight games.
Bulldogs CEO Cameron Britt said it was important for Parker to be around the footy club.
“What we think is really important is that Matt is allowed to return and at least have a hearing about the possibility of playing some footy over here,” Britt said.
“He left Richmond prematurely this season and with his contract to return home for family reasons.
“We very much support his decision as a family-first club. If we could be the beneficiary of getting him back into our group in 2022, let alone 2023, that would be wonderful.
“We’ll let the powers at be deliberate that.”
Britt said the club would welcome Parker and his family back with open arms either way.
“They’re a really important part of the footy club and great Souths people,” he said.
“We want to just make sure they feel looked after upon their return to Perth.
“He’s made his intentions clear that he wants to get back involved with the footy club as soon as possible, whether that’s on-field, we’ll have to wait and see. There will certainly be an off-field role for Matt either way to engage him.”
The 26-year-old, who was picked in last year’s mid-season draft , explained his decision to leave and the difficulties of living away from home.
“This club and its supporters will hold a special place in my heart,” Parker told the club website.
“Dimma (Richmond coach Damien Hardwick) and the people at our club always say family comes first and living away from home has not always been easy for me.”
Parker said he had made lifelong friends but: “Now is a time that I must put my family first and return home to Perth with my partner and three children.”
He played 30 games across two clubs, 19 at St Kilda and 11 at Richmond.