'It's bulls***': AFL great sheds light on free agency debate

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·Sports Reporter
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Mabior Chol and Jake Kelly both switched teams in free agency this season, with their former teams earning controversial compensation for their trouble. Pictures: Getty Images
Mabior Chol and Jake Kelly both switched teams in free agency this season, with their former teams earning controversial compensation for their trouble. Pictures: Getty Images

AFL great David King has shed some light on one of the league's most confounding concepts in off-season free agency - compensation picks.

Draft picks given to teams as compensation for a player leaving under free agency have long been a point of contention among footy fans.

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The somewhat random nature of their value as they relate to the value of a departing star has long been a source of controversy among fans.

King's blunt explanation as to why the compensation picks don't seem to follow any specific pattern likely won't give those same fans much cause for understanding.

The former North Melbourne great said the AFL doesn't actually have an established system to value each pick relative to the departing player.

“It’s a bit like watching the wrestling. We all know it‘s bulls***, but there’s a place for it and we need it,” King told Fox Footy.

The compensation system made headlines last week after defender Mabior Chol signed with the Gold Coast Suns after playing 10 games for Richmond last season.

Chol's departure netted the Tigers a second round selection - which raised eyebrows considering Chol's relative lack of experience.

Sydney also earned a second-round pick after George Hewett departed for Carlton, while the Adelaide Crows picked up a third-round selection after Essendon recruited defender Jake Kelly.

While King said the system benefitted lower-ranked teams replacing veterans with young players, it was clear that more clarity would be required, with 2021 premiers Melbourne benefitting from the system several years ago when James Frawley left the club.

“I like it being a bit weighted and pliable. Melbourne needed that Pick 3, it became Angus Brayshaw,” King said.

“OK you’re losing Frawley, but you’re getting Brayshaw, so it’s a down payment on seven year’s time. Can you afford to not have that for the teams that need it?

“I think you need compensation, but in saying that I don’t know how they come to the decision of Pick 3 or Pick 21 or whatever it is …. but I like it.”

No concerns for new Blue George Hewett

New Carlton recruit George Hewett says he wasn't "at all" put off by the Blues' turbulent year when making the decision to leave Sydney in favour of a move south.

The Swans opted not to match Carlton's reported four-year contract offer to Hewett, a restricted free agent, and will receive an end-of-second-round draft pick as compensation.

The 25-year-old has therefore immediately joined the Blues after 120 AFL games for Sydney and will be new coach Michael Voss' first recruit.

The Blues haven't made the finals since 2013 and had a turbulent year off-field, sacking coach David Teague at season's end following an external review.

"No to be honest (I wasn't put off), not at all," Hewett said on Saturday.

"You look at their list, there's so much talent there - it's very, very exciting to be honest with you. So that's how I looked at it."

George Hewett has left the Sydney Swans in free agency to sign a deal with Carlton for next season. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)
George Hewett has left the Sydney Swans in free agency to sign a deal with Carlton for next season. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Hewett expected the Voss' "aura" as a former triple-premiership captain to immediately command respect at Carlton.

He also believed the Blues' 8-14 win-loss record didn't reflect the level of talent in their attack - and their defensive issues could easily be amended.

"We know how good they are on the attack so hopefully we can maybe just look into some team defence and that's very fixable and we'll see how it goes," he said.

Hewett has averaged 17.8 disposals, 3.1 clearances and just under four tackles a game since his 2016 debut, and should add extra grunt to the Blues' midfield.

"It'll be good to learn off and compete against Patrick (Cripps) and Sam Walsh," he said.

"They're two top players of the competition that are elite at what they do.

"So it'll be good to compete against them and hopefully we can all set a high standard for the group."

Hewett will reunite with fellow former Swan Nic Newman when he travels down in late November, with his family to join him around Christmas.

Fremantle's Adam Cerra is also set to join Carlton once the Blues seal a trade.

With AAP

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