Ratugolea signs new AFL deal with Geelong

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Geelong have locked away emerging ruck-forward Esava Ratugolea on a new two-year contract that ties him to the AFL club until the end of 2023.

An athletic 197cm prospect, Ratugolea was targeted by GWS last year as a potential piece in the Jeremy Cameron trade.

But the 22-year-old rejected that interest to remain with the Cats, who ultimately gave up three first-round draft picks as part of the deal to secure key forward Cameron.

Ratugolea was selected with pick 43 in the 2016 draft and will reach the 50-game milestone when Geelong take on Richmond on Sunday.

"I can't wait to see what this group does going forward, and I want to be a part of it so it's very exciting times," Ratugolea said.

"I got drafted with a few of the blokes who have signed on - Jack Henry, Mark O'Connor and Brandan Parfitt.

"I love the group. I can't wait to develop my footy and grow with this club."

Ratugolea enjoyed a breakout season in 2019 and played a dozen home-and-away games last year, but was left out of Geelong's run to the grand final.

After battling injuries early this season, he returned in round eight and has made nine appearances in a dual ruck-forward role.

"Esava continues to develop his football craft in a number of roles both in the ruck and up forward," Geelong general manager of football Simon Lloyd said.

"He's exciting to watch and has great potential to build on his first 49 games of AFL experience.

"We see Esava as a key part of the club's next generation, and we are pleased to have secured his services."

Geelong and Richmond will do battle at the MCG on Sunday after the AFL rejected the Cats' request to switch their home game to GMHBA Stadium.

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