Michael in shock retirement reversal

Saturday, November 25 2006 @ 05:38 pm ACDT

Contributed by: Brett Northey

Just weeks after retiring from the AFL, former Brisbane Lion Mal Michael has been signed by Essendon to continue his stellar career for at least two more years.

Michael had previously sought a lighter or modified training load to continue with Brisbane in 2007, to allow him to spend more time on the Mal Michael Foundation. The Foundation is designed to help develop his country of birth, Papua New Guinea. Michael persuaded Brisbane that he would retire from the top level, and has recently announced plans to move back to Melbourne, where he grew up, thus not completing the remaining year on his contract.

After today's AFL Draft, the final player movements for 2006 are played out in the pre-season draft in December, allowing players in the system to move around. In a shock move, Essendon approached Michael to continue his career with the offer of a two year contract and he has agreed. In the announcement Michael suggested that the Bombers' training regime will better allow him to pursue the Foundation - whether it is purely Essendon's timetable or whether he will be given a lighter load remains to be seen.

Brisbane are believed to be furious at the decision and feel the draft system has been compromised. They have appealed to the AFL to investigate. It seems Essendon's wily old coach Kevin Sheedy still has a few tricks up his sleeve. With Sheedy more attuned to the international possibilities for Aussie Rules, and the Dons having shown interest in both the US and Japan, perhaps closer alignment with PNG will now occur.

Read more about the controversy in Lions fume, Bombers defiant.

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