Birchall signs on until 2017

THE likelihood of Grant Birchall remaining a one-club player increased yesterday after the dashing defender from Devonport extended his contract with reigning premier Hawthorn until the end of 2017.

Birchall would have been eligible for free agency at the end of 2015 and he will be 29 when this contract expires.

``I'm rapt to be able to sign up again,'' Birchall said ahead of the Hawks' departure tomorrow for their preseason camp to South Africa.

``Hawthorn gave me the opportunity at a young age and I just want to repay them and continue to play some good footy.''

Birchall, who was one of the Hawks' best in their grand final win over Fremantle with 26 possessions, said on the club's website that he had no intention of leaving.

``We've got a really good group here and were a pretty close-knit sort of team but the winning culture definitely helps,'' the 25-year-old said.

``We've also got guys between the ages of 21 and 25 who are really going to drive the club forward in the next few years so its very exciting and hopefully we can take another big leap next year.''

Birchall, the 14th pick in the 2005 national draft, has played 169 games in the brown and gold including 17 in 2013, where he averaged 24 touches a game and finished seventh in the club's best and fairest.

The 2012 All-Australian became a two-time premiership player in September, having also been part of the club's 2008 triumph

Hawthorn recruiting and list manager and fellow Tasmanian Graham Wright said it was fantastic that Birchall had re-committed long-term.

``Grant's one of the competition's elite rebounding defenders,'' Wright said. ``He's 25 years of age, a high quality character and future leader, this is the perfect long-term contract from the club's perspective.''

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