MELBOURNE and the Western Bulldogs are among the clubs to have expressed interest in Collingwood's powerhouse key forward Travis Cloke.
The Bulldogs have not made Cloke a formal offer, but they are set to make one of close to $1 million a year over a long term, while the Demons are willing to dangle a similar deal, given they have the salary cap room to pay Cloke that amount.
Fremantle, which has offered a four- or five-year deal at around the $1 million a season mark, has been the most aggressive suitor for Cloke, who is a restricted free agent this year.
Wanted: Travis Cloke. Photo: Getty Images
There has never been any suggestion that Cloke wants to leave Collingwood, which is willing to give him a long-term contract, but his management has been testing the market and seeking offers from rival clubs.
GWS has ruled out pursuing Cloke.
The Dogs yesterday met with Ralph Carr, who is assisting Cloke's father, David, in managing Travis. Melbourne has been in discussions with David Cloke, having a connection through chief executive Cameron Schwab, whose relationship with Cloke snr stretches back to the 1970s when Schwab's father, Alan, was general manager of the Tigers and David Cloke was a young player.
Melbourne's coach Mark Neeld also has a relationship with Travis Cloke from the coach's time as a Collingwood assistant and Demons' forward coach Leigh Brown played alongside Cloke in the same forward line, including during the Magpies' 2010 premiership.
Melbourne would not comment last night on Cloke, with chief executive Schwab saying that it was club policy not to comment on player contracts or recruitment of players. Bulldogs football operations chief James Fantasia also declined to comment.
The Bulldogs' interest in Cloke is based upon the club's desperate need for a power forward, the club having struggled to convert the deluge of opportunities created by its midfield in the wake of Barry Hall's retirement.
To date, the club's new list manager, Jason McCartney, has met with Carr to ascertain the All-Australian's situation, what Cloke is seeking and whether he is genuinely interested in leaving via free agency.
Collingwood remains confident that it will retain Cloke, whom most observers from rival clubs believe is likely to remain with the Magpies, despite the greater dollars available elsewhere.
Melbourne has already recruited Mitch Clark to play as a power forward, wooing the 24-year-old from the Lions on a lucrative four-year contract. Clark, who has impressed this year, has the capacity to also play in the ruck in the improbable event that Cloke joined the Demons.
Under the new free agency system, Cloke is a restricted free agent at the end of this season, so Collingwood is allowed to match the best offer and retain him.