AFL proposes three in-season rookie drafts

Justin Chadwick
·2-min read

The AFL has put forward a proposal that will allow clubs to add players to their rookie list on three separate occasions during the season.

And the AFL will close the loophole that has previously allowed clubs to snap up Next Generation Academy talents at a bargain price.

Instead of the mid-season rookie draft, the AFL wants clubs to have the option of filling vacant list spots or replace inactive players on a semi-regular basis.

Under the proposal, clubs will be able to upgrade an eligible player to their rookie list at three different periods throughout the 2021 season.

One of the examples put forward was for a model where clubs could recruit players after rounds four, eight, and 12.

In the instance that the same player is nominated by two or more clubs, the player will go to the team lower on the ladder under a rolling process.

The club who received the player would then go to the back of the line.

The AFL will now discuss the model with AFL and state league clubs over the next month before deciding whether to introduce it next year.

The mid-season rookie draft, which was introduced last season, produced a fairytale story when Richmond's Marlion Pickett went on to win a premiership on debut in 2019.

Pickett has since become a fixture in Richmond's line-up, and last month won his second premiership in just his 20th game.

During the AFL's meeting with all 18 clubs on Wednesday, they also announced concession changes to the Next Generation Academy, which focuses on Indigenous and multicultural players.

From 2021, nominated NGA prospects will only be eligible to be matched by their aligned club from pick No.21 in the national draft.

It means rival clubs will now have access to any NGA talents deemed worthy of a pick between No.1 and No.20.

All other players selected from pick 41 onwards can be matched by their aligned club using their next available selection, while undrafted players are still eligible to pre-selected on the rookie list.

From 2022, nominated NGA prospects will only be eligible to be matched from pick No.41 onwards by their aligned club using their next available selection.

The new system has been brought in to close the loophole where clubs have been able to access top-line talent at a bargain price.

For example, the Western Bulldogs will get potential No.1 pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan on the cheap given they can simply match a rival's bid with their next available selection.

That scenario can't happen next year once the changes are introduced.