The fight for Lynch is over. Free agent to become a Tiger
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The fight for Lynch is over. Free agent to become a Tiger

The race for free agent Tom Lynch is over with the Gold Coast Suns captain making his decision to go to Richmond.

It is understood both Hawthorn and Collingwood have been told they have missed out on the most wanted out of contract player this off-season.

Both clubs were told that if they had other priorities in the trade market they should focus their energies elsewhere.

The move to tell the clubs leaves the Tigers as the destination for the full forward.

Tom Lynch will be heading to Richmond.

Tom Lynch will be heading to Richmond.Credit:AAP

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Lynch is expected to earn less at any of the three big Victorian clubs than would have been available to him to stay at the Suns but he had decided he wanted to return to Victoria. He was already being paid more than a million dollars a year at the Gold Coast.

No official announcement on where he wants to sign is expected to be made until after the finals, or after Richmond have finished in the finals, which is likely to be one and the same thing with the top of the ladder Tigers expected to make the grand final.

Hawthorn and Collingwood both pushed hard to secure Lynch with Nathan Buckley and the Collingwood leaders meeting with him at his parents' home at Blairgowrie.

The Hawks captain Jarryd Roughead also flew to the Gold Coast during the end of season bye to meet with Lynch and put the case to him to choose the Hawks. Alastair Clarkson was understood to be in regular phone contact with Lynch in the Hawks' push to claim his signature.

Richmond were expected to be Lynch's destination from a long way out. Clubs believed he had most likely made his mind up some time ago but both Collingwood and Hawthorn pushed hard to persuade the full forward.

Richmond had been confident of their case and had said they didn't want to know of Lynch's decision until after the finals and it is uncertain if they have officially been told yet by his management company that they are the club of choice. By elimination with the other clubs being told they are out, it is clear Lynch will head to Punt Road.

After undergoing season-ending PCL surgery at the end of the year Lynch told the Gold Coast a month ago he was going to exercise his free agent's rights and would leave the club.

That prompted the club to strip him of the captaincy.

“The club will continue to assist Tom with his rehabilitation from injury, however he won’t be part of the football program for the remainder of the season," Gold Coast Suns chief executive Mark Evans said in a statement at the time.

“Tom understands all the mechanics of being a restricted free agent, which ultimately can’t come to a conclusion until October. Importantly for us we still have four matches to play this season and our focus is on continuing to build an environment and game plan that will set us up for the future.”

Michael Gleeson is a senior AFL football writer and Fairfax Media's athletics writer. He also covers tennis, cricket and other sports. He won the AFL Players Association Grant Hattam Trophy for excellence in journalism for the second time in 2014 and was a finalist in the 2014 Quill Awards for best sports feature writer. He was also a finalist in the 2014 Australian Sports Commission awards for his work on ‘Boots for Kids’. He is a winner of the AFL Media Association award for best news reporter and a two-time winner of Cricket Victoria’s cricket writer of the year award. Michael has covered multiple Olympics, Commonwealth Games and world championships and 15 seasons of AFL, He has also written seven books - five sports books and two true crime books.