Melbourne's newest target: Daniel Cross. Photo: Joe Armao
Melbourne has confirmed its interest in recruiting decorated former Western Bulldog Daniel Cross, as new coach Paul Roos seeks to add experience to the club's struggling midfield.
The Demons' general manager of player personnel and strategy Todd Viney said on Thursday the club had spoken to Cross, who was discarded by the Bulldogs after more than 200 games over 12 seasons, about playing for it in 2014, and also a possible role in sports science down the track.
Viney said the Demons would speak to Cross again over the next week, and that the Bulldogs' 2008 best and fairest winner had indicated his wish to keep playing in the AFL. ''We've had a little chat with him just to find out what he wants to do. I think his main focus is he wants to play … We'll have a conversation in the next week or so.''
General manager of player personnel and strategy Todd Viney. Photo: Pat Scala
Viney said the Demons had spoken to Cross not only about the 30-year-old joining them as a player but of the possible role in sports science.
''We've had a chat to see what his interests are,'' he said.
Viney said the Demons were interested in gaining some experience.
Cross was forced out of the Bulldogs by that team's contingent of inside midfielders, including skipper Matthew Boyd and new stoppage specialist Tom Liberatore, who has become one of the game's premier clearance players this year.
Cross was dropped during the 2013 season, before returning to play an important part in the club's late-season revival. But the Dogs had already decided they needed more ''run and spread'' rather than pure contested grunt, which meant Cross was pushed out.
He did demonstrate some prowess playing as a high half-forward, manning the likes of Carlton's Kade Simpson and other attacking defenders, late in the 2013 season.
Cross can simply move straight to the Demons as a delisted free agent, without having to pass through a draft, under the more liberal rules that make it easier for unwanted or unhappy players to move clubs.
If Cross does join the Demons and then takes up an off-field role immediately, or in a subsequent season, he would be continuing the pattern shown by Greater Western Sydney with older recruits such as Luke Power and Chad Cornes, both of whom joined the coaching staff while still playing.
Collingwood recruited ruckman Ben Hudson as a rookie-list player who would coach the club's rucks part-time.
Cross was an integral player at the Bulldogs throughout his career and his consistency was reflected in his best and fairest placings - he was runner up in the club award four times, won it in 2008 and was third in 2011.
The Demons, clearly, recognise that Cross also has the requisite leadership qualities, work ethic and team orientation that they would crave in a player of his vintage.
Melbourne is one of the least experienced teams in the competition and is widely regarded as having the weakest midfield, with the consistent but not silky Nathan Jones its midfield standout.