FOOTBALLER MIT SAIAN McBride is set to extend his career in Australia after the AFL granted his club Essendon special permission to retain B-level rookies beyond the normal restrictions.
McBride recently completed his third season with the Bombers and is yet to make his AFL debut. The key defenseman spent three years as a Class B rookie.
A place in Category B was previously reserved for international recruits and is the traditional starting point for Irish players. Part of the appeal of AFL clubs in signing Irish athletes is that they can do so without having to go through the draft or hold a place on the senior list. It is essentially a “free kick”.
In August, the AFL announced that due to Covid disruptions in 2020 and 2021, Essendon could re-list McBride on the Grade B rookie list in 2023 for one year. The 21-year-old will need to pass the 2022 national draft, at which point Essendon can extend his stay unless another club picks him up.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on the rookies as development coaches have been fired and reserve leagues have been scrapped. The AFL has also cleared Collingwood basketball convert Tom Wilson and said it would consider any additional reasonable requests from B grade rookie clubs.
The42 understands that an agreement has been reached between McBride and Essendon to pursue this option. He is due back in Australia later in November. McBride featured for his club St Ultans in the off-season and was cleared to train with Meath in 2020 before suffering an injury.
His return would be a welcome boost for new Meath boss Colm O’Rourke, but that is now unlikely. While he could still be delisted, this is a move within the exclusion to extend his stay Down Under.
Davidos Ousis Carey is also a rookie in category B. He signed a two-year contract in 2021 and has yet to make his first-team debut. Westmeath man Fionn O’Hara has just completed his first campaign as a rookie Grade B international with Hawthorn.