Essendon CAS verdict: Bombers do not rule out signing Ryan Crowley

As the search for 10 top-up players continues, Essendon have not ruled out reigniting the AFL career of delisted Docker, Ryan Crowley.

The Dockers opted to move on from Crowley, 31, last year after he had served a 12-month ban for taking a banned painkiller on match day.

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The Bombers reportedly approached Crowley on Thursday but his manager Colin Young denied this when contacted on Friday. Young said the Bombers were to discuss his stable of possible players next week.

Essendon coach John Worsfold kept the door slightly ajar when asked about Crowley on Friday.

Ryan Crowley.
Possible signing: Essendon have not ruled out Ryan Crowley as one of their 10 top-up players. Photo: Getty Images

"We're not going to rule anyone out but we are certainly going to do our research on the guys that come in," Worsfold said on SEN radio.

"They have to really be prepared to be able to play at a certain level but also buy into anything that I'm trying to build here within the playing group.


"That goes for all the players and they want to know what kind of environment they are coming into."

Former Geelong star Cameron Mooney believes the Bombers should seriously consider Crowley, who has not played a senior game since 2014.

Mooney says Crowley, a lock-down tagger, would provide a strong midfield body, particularly important now the Bombers have lost Jobe Watson, Dyson Heppell and Brent Stanton.

Crowley, a former Dockers' best and fairest, had already signed to play with WAFL club Swan Districts this season. The 188-game veteran continued to train strongly last year and through the opening months of this pre-season.

Should the Bombers agree to sign Crowley, they would need to be confident the reasons behind his suspension last year would not tarnish their off-field rebuilding plans after a three-year battle with anti-doping authorities.

Former Dockers defender Paul Duffield and delisted forward Max Duffy have also reportedly attracted the Bombers' interest.

The AFL confirmed on Friday that the 10 players the Bombers can secure must have been on an AFL list during the past two years or from within their VFL team, unless special approval is sought by AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon. The Bombers must finish their recruiting by March 15.

They will not retain list access rights beyond October 31 to any top-up players put on the primary list.

Worsfold said he hoped the dozen banned Essendon players would remain with the club but admitted they could seek to leave.

"Well, that's a distinct possibility because they've all got that right," he said.

"That's something as a club that is a big-risk factor for us and as much as possible we've tried to support these guys. Our aim is that we would love them all back.

"They're allowed to start training eight weeks back from November 13 – so they can be back ready to start the next pre-season."