Lions snare AFL Hawks' free agent Birchall

Four-time premiership player Grant Birchall has signed for Brisbane in the 2020 AFL season.
Four-time premiership player Grant Birchall has signed for Brisbane in the 2020 AFL season.

Four-time AFL premiership player Grant Birchall will play for Brisbane next season after agreeing to join the club as an unrestricted free agent.

The 31-year-old had been offered a rookie contract by Hawthorn but will instead head north to reunite with Lions coach Chris Fagan on a one-year deal.

Birchall played in the Hawks' 2008 and 2013-15 premierships but has been ravaged by injuries, managing just eight games in the past three seasons.

He will bring additional experience to the Lions' backline following the retirement of former premiership teammate Luke Hodge.

"Grant's ability to rebound the ball with his run and carry has been an area we've wanted to target this trade period," Lions football manager David Noble said.

"We're really excited with what he can offer our club on the field as he has a track record of stepping up and playing well in big games."

Birchall played 248 games for Hawthorn and earned All-Australian selection in 2012.

He was the last of the Hawks to have played in each of their four most recent flags following the retirement of Jarryd Roughead.

Fellow stars Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis were moved on at the end of 2016, finishing their playing careers at West Coast and Melbourne respectively.

"We were always open with Birch and his management about the fact we would be unable to guarantee him a list spot until we got through the trade period and had a better idea of where our list sat," Hawks football boss Graham Wright said.

"The last couple of seasons have been incredibly frustrating for Birch on the injury front and we are pleased for him that the Lions are able to provide him the opportunity to continue his playing career."

Birchall's signing at Brisbane was the only confirmed move on Thursday morning as the trade period continued its glacial start.

While Tim Kelly's blockbuster trade from Geelong to West Coast was made official on Wednesday, a number of big names remained in limbo.

Essendon star Joe Daniher appeared no closer to securing a move to Sydney, while teammate Orazio Fantasia, widely expected to seek a trade to Port Adelaide, has yet to confirm his intentions.

Fremantle and St Kilda continued to haggle over Docker Brad Hill, with the Saints also negotiating Jack Steven's potential shift to Geelong.

Australian Associated Press