The Kangaroos then sent picks 26 and 33, along with pick 70, to the Pies, in exchange for Stephenson, Atu Bosenavulagi and pick 39.
Stephenson, since his outstanding debut season, has endured a couple of turbulent years, suspended for a gambling breach last year, then falling out of favour at times this year after battling glandular fever in the pre-season.
Speaking on SEN after his trade was completed, Stephenson said it had been a whirlwind couple of weeks and that he was keen to prove some people wrong.
“It was probably a week, or a couple of days before the trade period started. My manager came to me and said, ‘Look, you might be up for trade mate.’ It was sort of a bit of a shock to start with, but as the time’s gone on I’ve sort of come to terms with it and now I feel like I’ve made the right decision,” Stephenson said.
“I said the whole time I wanted to stay … but it’s not always to be.”
Stephenson said Buckley had urged him to look at leaving.
“My manager sort of came to me, and then I heard nothing from the club. I gave Bucks [Buckley] a call myself to see what was going on and he just pretty much said, ‘Mate, look for a trade as aggressively as you want and we’ll try facilitate it.’ There wasn’t a very clear reasoning or anything but like I said I think it’s all worked out for the best.
“He said he doesn’t know if I’ve allowed myself to open up to the group, which I don’t necessarily agree with but if that’s how he saw it, he’s the coach and that’s his [prerogative]. So, I’ll definitely be endearing myself to my new teammates and coaches.
“He also said he saw a few things this year, which he didn’t like [in me] as a footballer and that’s probably completely fair enough.
If he’s going to judge me on one year that’s their problem I suppose.
Jaidyn Stephenson on Collingwood
“If he’s going to judge me on one year that’s their problem I suppose.”
Speaking later on Trade Radio, Stephenson said he had been hurt by what transpired.
“Yeah I am a little bit hurt, I was obviously very happy playing at Collingwood … I enjoyed being there.”
Later on Thursday night, Buckley took to social media to describe the day as his “toughest in footy … bar none”.
“Managing contracted players who love the environment out of the club is a lose/lose situation in the short term,” he said.
“The decisions aren’t popular but they were necessary.
“I wish Adam, Jaidyn, Tom [Phillips] and Atu all the best at their new clubs.”
Collingwood have been contacted for comment.
North had forecast weeks ago that contract negotiations between Brown and the Roos had broken down, leaving the Dees to pounce. Melbourne had been interested in offloading Tom McDonald but a suitor could not be found for a player with two years left to run on his contract.
McDonald will now look to work his way back into the team.
“We were pretty open with Tom through the back half of this year,” Melbourne football chief Josh Mahoney said on Trade Radio.
“Obviously, he wasn’t playing for us, he wasn’t in our best 22. We’ve now brought in Ben Brown in the position that he’s been playing. He was looking around for opportunities … he’ll come back to us, have a strong pre-season and do the best that he can to get in the best 22, whether that’s in the forward half or in defence.”
McDonald’s younger brother Oscar is yet to be offered a contract for 2021, Mahoney confirmed.
Livewire Higgins arrived at St Kilda – the club he supported as a child – with Richmond sending pick 21 and a future fourth pick to the Saints as well. The Tigers received pick 17 and a future second selection.
Witherden and pick 86 headed to the Eagles for pick 58 and a future third round pick.
The Dees also received picks 18, 19 and a 2021 second-rounder from Brisbane in exchange for picks 25, 68, 69 and a future first round pick.
Melbourne had earlier received pick 25 from Sydney for picks 31 and 43.
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Daniel is an Age sports reporter