JIMMY BARTEL WILL REMAIN A CAT
By Mark Heanan. Geelong AFL coach Mark Thompson is confident that gun midfielder Jimmy Bartel will commit to a new contract with the Cats.
Negotiations have continued to stall over the 21-year-old's playing future with the club in recent months.
He remains the last of the AFL's big names yet to sign, but Thompson said on Monday it was only a matter of "tying up a few loose ends" before the contract was settled.
Bartel joined his teammates for the Cats' first official pre-season training session.
"I don't think he has signed to all the terms and everything else," Thompson said.
"I think if they are haggling over something, its something so minute that it's not worth worrying about - we will get there."
Bartel's manager Paul Connors confirmed he was waiting on the arrival of Cats Football Manager Garry Davidson, who returns from holidays next week, to finalise contract negotiations.
"I can assure you 99 per cent of the contract is done," Connors said.
Connors expects Bartel to sign a new three-year deal with Geelong in the coming weeks, believed to be worth $300,000 a season.
Collingwood, Essendon and Carlton have all shown interest in luring Bartel from Skilled Stadium, with reports suggesting he could earn as much $1.6 million over four years.
Bartel, who turns 22 next month, was Geelong's eighth pick in the 2001 National Draft.
He has played 64 games since making his debut for the Cats in 2002 and finished seventh in the club's best and fairest count this year.
In the meantime, Geelong has invited delisted Fremantle player Andrew Siegert to take part in the club's first pre-season training session as he attempts to resurrect his AFL career.
The 23-year-old, who captained Geelong Falcons to a Premiership in 2000 in the TAC Cup, played 36 games in four seasons with Fremantle.
"Andrew is a Geelong Falcon boy and has been over at Fremantle and has had a pretty good career, so we will have a look at him and we'll see what comes of that," Thompson said.
Siegert is hoping Geelong throws him a lifeline via the pre-season draft.
The Cats have four selections in 15, 31, 35 and 47 and will have up to three picks in the rookie draft.
BARTEL, PICTURE WITH GARY ABLETT AFTER A WIN IN ROUND 19 2004