AFL clubs welcomed a plethora of young talent to the league during Wednesday night’s AFL draft, but it was league boss Gillon McLaughlin who stole the show with a strange speech to begin proceedings.
Coverage of the draft on television commenced at 6:30, but thanks to a bizarre speech in which McLaughlin seemed to emphasise every single word, the first pick wasn’t announced for another 45 minutes.
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McLaughlin’s pre-prepared speech seemed to drag on for quite some time, prompting some predictable mockery from fans online, who were keenly awaiting the next generation of AFL talent.
While McLaughlin got the night started on a strange note, it was Carlton list manager Stephen Silvagni who stole the show with a series of surprise moves.
The Gold Coast Suns, with the first two picks, selected Matt Rowell at No.1 and then his long-time friend Noah Anderson.
The draft continues on Thursday night with the remaining rounds, while the pre-season draft is on Friday morning.
Blues list manager Stephen Silvagni’s stunning draft raid
But it was Silvagni’s wheeling and dealing that took many by surprise.
The Blues legend launched a succession of AFL draft raids, giving themselves an extra round-one pick and forcing the hands of rival clubs in the top 10.
First they bid on Fremantle academy nomination Liam Henry at No.9 and did the same with GWS academy prospect Tom Green at No.10.
The Dockers and Giants matched Carlton's bids to secure their players, but they also had to give up picks lower in the draft.
The Blues then immediately did live trades of picks with Gold Coast and Port Adelaide, meaning they gained an extra round-one selection.
They recruited Brodie Kemp, who is recovering from a knee reconstruction, at 17 and Sam Philp was a round-one bolter when Carlton took him at 20.
"We probably got the boy (Kemp) that we had ranked around that pick nine-11, knowing he could slide a little bit," Silvagni said.
"I guess the pick we got at 20 was a bit of a free shot for us."
There was pre-draft speculation that Carlton and Adelaide might do another high-profile trade, but the Crows stuck with their first pick at No.6 and recruited key position player Fischer McAsey.