K rock Football

Billings rejects free agency

Jack Billings has signed a four-year contract with St Kilda. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

ST KILDA’S Jack Billings is the latest AFL star to reject free agency, signing a four-year deal that will probably make him a one-team player.

Paddy Ryder has also re-committed to the Saints, the veteran ruckman returning for another season.

Billings, 26, was a restricted free agent and his new contract will keep the utility at Moorabbin until 2025.

The No.3 pick in the 2013 draft has played 144 games for the Saints and joined their leadership group last season.

Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps, Western Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli, Essendon midfielder Zach Merrett and GWS on-baller Josh Kelly are other big names this year who have shunned free agency.

Ryder, 33, took personal leave from the Saints in March but returned in Round 7 and played 12 games in 2021.

The All-Australian has played 26 games in two seasons at St Kilda after 170 at Essendon and 73 for Port Adelaide.

“We’re really lucky to have Jack commit long-term to the club,” Saints list manager James Gallagher said.

“He’s the ultimate professional, always adhering himself and others to really high standards which is exactly what we need from a young leader like him.

“Jack has the capabilities and dedication to elevate his game to another level and can play a variety of roles for the team.

“Paddy’s continued to show his importance despite his age. His ruck work is first-class and we’ve been fortunate to have him at the club over the past two seasons.”

(C) AAP 2021