ALE Morris will play on next season with the premiership star joining two in-demand teammates who have recommitted to the Western Bulldogs.
The Sunday Herald Sun can reveal that Morris, full-forward Jack Redpath and Lukas Webb have all signed on in another big tick for the club’s retention strategy.
Redpath spurned a generous offer from Carlton, while it is believed Webb drew interest from rival clubs including Gold Coast.
Both players inked two-year deals while Morris, 35 in December, signed a one-year extension.
Dogs coach Luke Beveridge said after Round 23 that Travis Cloke’s future would be confirmed shortly.
“His heart has got to be in it (to play on) and we’ll talk to him about that over the next couple (of weeks),” Beveridge said.
Cloke, 30, is contracted next season.
The Dogs are hunting a key-position star and want to sort out their inefficiency in attack after ranking 18th for accuracy and goals per inside 50m.
“We can’t go out and just recruit a 200cm player that’s just going to provide back-up – we want somebody to be influential,” Beveridge said.
“There’s not a lot of players in the land who are probably ready to be instrumental in helping us in our next finals drive.”
Under list chiefs Jason McCartney and Simon Dalrymple, the Dogs have locked away all of their key targets with 13 players recommitting this year.
Stewart Crameri and Mitch Honeychurch do not have deals, although both appear likely to remain at Whitten Oval unless trades are struck.
The Dogs have extended deals for promising youngsters Tim English, Bailey Dale, Lewis Young, Bailey Williams and Patrick Lipinski as well as premiership captain Easton Wood.
They also re-signed West Australians Marcus Adams (2020) and Norm Smith Medallist Jason Johannisen (2022).
Despite crashing out of September after last year’s premiership, Beveridge backed his list.
“It’s our core group through the middle that needs to improve,” he said.
“We think there’s enough talent on our list, if they put the hard work in, that they can be a formidable group.”
The Dogs’ demographic is set to take on a younger flavour after the retirements of captain Bob Murphy and Matthew Boyd, who are both 35.
Boyd is one of 15-AFL listed players named to play in Footscray’s VFL elimination final.
Webb, 21, played just four AFL games this season, but averaged 25 disposals and kicked 16 goals from 13 VFL matches.
“Lukas has continued to add to his game each year,” McCartney said.
“We’re looking forward to seeing him become the player we know he can be.”
Redpath, 26, swiftly returned from his third knee reconstruction to kick 15.13 from nine matches.
But he was twice interrupted by suspensions and he was unlucky to have his season end with a controversial three-match ban for striking.
“We’re confident his best is still ahead of him,” McCartney said.
Morris returned from breaks to his arm and leg this season and is set to celebrate his 250th match next year.
“Dale’s versatility down back is invaluable,” McCartney said.
“He’s the ideal player to have around our young group as they continue to grow and mature.”
Premiership stars Jake Stringer, Jack Macrae, Luke Dahlhaus and Tom Liberatore are due to come out of contract next year.