Cats 'compo' pick crucial to Boak deal
Popular: Port Adelaide out-of-contract midfielder Travis Boak. Photo: Getty Images
THERE is a way for Travis Boak to become a Cat should the midfielder leave Port and ask to be traded to Geelong, which is Black Caviar odds in the prospective race for his signature.
Geelong has one valuable compensation pick for Gary Ablett remaining. While the Cats have not chosen to activate that first round selection for this year, the rules still allow them to trade the choice.
Geelong could use Greater Western Sydney as a third party to consummate any deal with Port, which, doubtless, will want more than just a double figure first round pick for a player whom it selected at No.6 in 2006 and has proven himself as highly capable.
But the ''compo'' pick still shapes as crucial to any potential deal, with the Cats able to supplement it with a player or another draft choice.
GWS has two major items on the auction block that could see it become the deal-maker in the hypothetical Boak trade.
The Giants are selling the rights to the two best 17-year-olds in the country, as they did last year, when clubs went into a bidding frenzy over Jaegar O'Meara (Gold Coast winning the auction). Clubs have already approached the Giants about those 17-year-olds, whom GWS is touting as budding superstars; Claremont's Jack Martin heads the field.
Under one scenario, Geelong would give up the compo pick and perhaps a player to GWS, which would give Port the rights to one of the 17-year-olds. GWS is in the market for a tall back.
The Power would be able to consider a South Australian youngster, such as Luke Reynolds, from the field of half a dozen or so elite 17-year-olds (Adelaide picked a Victorian kid, Brad Crouch, when it traded a compo pick last year).
Melbourne and the Bulldogs have ''activated'' their compensation draft picks (for Tom Scully and Callan Ward) and thus would be well placed to pick up one of the 17-year-olds if they wish, albeit these ''17s'' cannot play at AFL level next year even if they're the second coming of Chris Judd.
If he goes, Boak will be leaving for love, not money. He is paid around $500,000 this year and would likely be as well paid at Port over the next few years as he would anywhere.
Can Geelong afford him? It happens that the Cats will have a salary cap space of about $500,000 opening up, due to changes in the veteran's allowance rules that are favourable to teams with a sizeable number of 10-year players. If they don't get Boak, one senses that they will be in the market for someone.
Geelong estimates that the veteran's rule could give it as much as a million dollars extra in its salary cap - the number depending on how many veterans play on next year; the Cats have 11 players eligible for veteran's status and a cap discount of $110,000 to $115,000 per player.
While Boak would be well paid, the Cats have made clear that he would have to fit into their payment structure, which would start with Joel Selwood and Jimmy Bartel at the top. Under chief executive Brian Cook, the Cats have a policy of ensuring there is the smallest range possible in the payments of their best players - they would rather than several players on $400-$600,000, rather than two on $800,000-plus.
In response to a question about Boak, Cats coach Chris Scott yesterday reiterated that the Cats wouldn't overpay any recruit from another club. ''We will not overpay players. It is really important that we respect the players who have been champions of our club and if a player comes into the Geelong footy club from another club in the AFL, they have got to fit within our pay structure.
''If anyone thinks that they can come in here and get top dollar and come in here over the top of our really good players, they should probably look elsewhere.''
They will need a long-term deal, perhaps even five years, but Port shapes as more difficult to satisfy than Boak. But there is a way, and a will.