New Wangaratta coach Dean Stone says he won't speak to Collingwood players Ben Reid and Lynden Dunn while their season is still alive.
Speculation was strong a month ago Reid was a coaching contender when the club parted company with Luke Morgan, while Dunn has been perennially linked to Wangaratta because he's mates with star forward Michael Newton.
"I haven't spoken to either of the boys and the speculation is always going to be there because Lynden spends a fair bit of time with Mick out on the farm, he comes up quite a bit, or used to when he could (prior to COVID-19 restrictions) and obviously with Ben, he's got a property in Bright," Stone said.
The speculation is always going to be there ... both the boys are still on AFL lists and I don't think it's respectful talking to them while they've got a campaign.Dean Stone
"Both the boys are still on AFL lists and I don't think it's respectful talking to them while they've got a campaign to finish.
"Would I love to have them? Absolutely. It'd be great to have them, but it's fairly remote at this stage, I would have thought."
Reid is in his 14th year at the elite level, passing the 150-game mark earlier this season, while Dunn is in his 16th year.
Like all clubs, particularly under the player points system, Wangaratta will target its current list.
"That's our number one focus now," Stone said.
"If we could find an inside midfielder to help out Matt Kelly, Daniel Boyle, Joe Richards and the like, but they're not easy to find, and we probably need another key defender but, outside of that, I think we've got enough talent in what we've already got at the footy club.
"Our top-age thirds boys played in the 2019 grand final and, unfortunately, were a bit stiff to lose to Myrtleford, there's some exceptional talent in that group and it's part of our club model that we develop from within.
"It's important for the points, but you also want to give as many of those young fellows exposure to senior footy as we can."
Stone coached the club's tremendous junior talent to the under 18s flag in 2015, with Daniel Sharrock and Nick Richards taking the step up in the club's 2017 senior flag under Stone.
"He's got good tactics and he's good with the young blokes," Richards said.
"Dean's clear with his messaging in terms of playing your role, he doesn't complicate it."
Richards linked with Heidelberg for 2020 but, like all Victorian football outside the AFL, the Northern league was cancelled due to the coronavirus.
The 22-year-old is planning to play for the Tigers.
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While Richards won't return, the club will welcome back a former coach.
Three-time premiership player Judd Porter will coach the reserves, as was planned this year prior to COVID, while Matt Hedin will again mentor the under 18s.