The AFL’s version of the foreign legion have started reporting for duty.
Former St Kilda onballer Clinton Jones, ex-Geelong key position player Mitch Brown and midfielder James Magner (Melbourne) have attended Essendon headquarters in their new roles at top-up players.
There were at Tullarmarine for meetings and health checks, according to the AFL website.
The AFL Commission has granted Essendon special permission to use top-up players through the NAB Challenge and possibly the start of the regular season.
The players are needed because of the AFL anti-doping tribunal hearing into Essendon’s 2012 supplements scandal.
“It’s definitely strange, and obviously something that I didn’t think would happen,” Jones said.
“(I’m) looking forward to hopefully playing some games.”
The players hope to start training next week, but are yet to confirm their deals.
“We just spoke about what’s going to happen possibly with training and things like that,” Jones said.
“(We will) just wait and see for everything to go through and then if it does we could start training as early next week.”
SANFL and VFL clubs are confused and angry about aspects of the unusual arrangement, given they will provide the players.
Essendon has apologised for approaching some SA players without going through their clubs first.
The top ups are needed because 25 players on Essendon’s list in 2012 are sitting out games until the tribunal hands down its verdict, expected some time next month.
That is to protect the anonymity of the estimated 18 players from that year who are facing anti-doping charges.
The charged players, who are on provisional suspensions, are unavailable to protect potential backdated bans if they are found guilty.
Jones is likely to play against his old team-mates on March 7, when Essendon have their opening NAB Challenge match against St Kilda in Morwell.