MELBOURNE duo Billy Stretch and Alex Neal-Bullen have agreed to new deals, and Mitch White and Max King have been retained as rookies for 2016.
Stretch and Neal-Bullen, who were initially secured until the end of next season, have both signed a one-year contract extension, meaning they will remain Demons until at least the end of 2017.
Manager of football operations Josh Mahoney said the South Australian pair had shown plenty to like about their game in their first AFL season.
“Alex and Billy have adapted really quickly to the demands of being AFL players,” he told melbournefc.com.au.
“Both of them were able to play 11 AFL games in their first year and with a full pre-season leading into next year and the year after, we think they’re going to continue to develop into good AFL players.”
Stretch, the son of former Melbourne star Steven, was claimed as a father/son selection last year. He ended up being selected at No.42 in the NAB AFL Draft – two places after his good mate Alex Neal-Bullen, who was chosen at No.40.
Neal-Bullen, who made his AFL debut against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium in round 11, played 11 of Melbourne’s final 12 matches for the season.
Stretch played his first AFL game in round six against the Sydney Swans at the MCG. He missed just two matches from his debut through until round 17, before returning to play the last three rounds of the season.
Mahoney said White and King had both agreed to remain on the club’s rookie list for next season.
“Mitch and Max showed some good signs throughout the year,” he said.
“Mitch worked his way into the AFL team in the last round and didn’t look out of place. Max has always been a long-term project and he continues to develop at Casey.
“They have both accepted additional years on their rookie contracts.”
It will be King’s third season on the rookie list and White’s second year.
King was claimed at No.19 in the 2014 NAB AFL Rookie Draft (held in November 2013) and White was selected at No.20 in the 2015 NAB Rookie Draft (held in November 2014).
White made his AFL debut in the final round of the 2015 season against Greater Western Sydney at Etihad Stadium and impressed down back.
King, a 200cm key forward/ruckman, made impressive strides throughout the year. He started 2015 in the AFL Victoria Development League, before spending the second half of the year in the VFL.