The AFL are set to make a huge change to the trade system after recent controversies surrounding a number of rules. The father-son rule allows AFL teams preferential selection of young stars in the draft if their father has made a significant contribution of 100 minimum games for the club in the past.
This year, the rule was put under criticism when five players were taken by northern academies. The Bulldogs and Hawthorn selected two father-sons, which blew out the first round. The first round draft stretched out to 29 when there was only 64 players taken in total in last week's national draft.
'COULDN'T WALK': Grim details emerge over Adelaide player's Bali accident
'EMBARRASSING': Josh Daicos called out over wild AFL comparison
'HEART FEELS HEAVY': Gary Ablett and wife in heartbreaking development
But the rule has made an impact before. In the 2009 AFL grand final, Geelong had three father-sons on the field: Gary Ablett Jnr, Matthew Scarlett and Tom Hawkins. More recently, Daicos joining Collingwood caused drama a few years ago.
The Magpies matched a bid for Daicos at pick No.4 in 2021 having used father-son rule and picks 38, 40, 42, 44. The Bulldogs made a similar move with Sam Darcy this year. The Lions matched early bids in 2022 to grab father-sons Jaspa Fletcher and Will Ashcroft.
Other areas of drama included Gold Coast's ability to grab four academy players. This year, the Gold Coast were able to secure four academy players in the first round. This week, Hardwick deflected criticism over the draft. And AFL Laura Kane wrote to all clubs in October to propose the idea was on the table for a change. The rule review for the draft system is set to be the top agenda when AFL officials and general managers of football meet on Thursday.
Lions CEO hits out at AFL rule change
While there is unlikely any change for the 2024 draft, since teams have already traded future picks, what will be changed is unclear. However, the rule change hasn't sat well with everyone. The Lions CEO Greg Swann slammed the idea the draft is unfair and said Victorian clubs wouldn't take lightly to the rule change.
“The Vics will whinge and carry on so they’ll put pressure on,” Swann said on SEN Radio. “But this is a little bit of an anomaly and people are carrying on a bit much just because of one draft.” Fans were also divided over the rule.
How about other clubs bid on them when they should?
Just as a start - Nick Daicos, Will Ashcroft and Jed Walter all went lower than they should have. Clubs are giving their rivals a leg up then complaining they got a bargain. #AFL https://t.co/Pnq4zf813v
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) November 29, 2023
This whole nonsense about father/sons... There is no guarantee that any footballer will be a star, let alone a father/son. For every Gary Ablett Jr and Nick Daicos there’s a Will Kelly and Ben Silvagni. Don’t mean to knock those players but no one can predict who will be a star
— Anthony G (@Grazo16) November 29, 2023
Not every father/son can be a guaranteed success like Nick Daicos. Look at the Brown brothers and Will Kelly.
— Mat Mills (@matmills73) November 29, 2023
This week, Hardwick brushed off criticism from rival clubs about the perceived unfairness of the national draft, after his side scored four of their own promising young academy players in the first round. The Suns’ record haul of four first-round picks included Jed Walter (pick 3), Ethan Read (9), Jake Rogers (14) and Will Graham (26).
Backlash has been growing around the talent academies run by the Queensland and NSW clubs, with the 14 other AFL clubs left increasingly frustrated with regard to the rules around their next generation academies. West Coast were among those clubs left frustrated about losing academy prospect Lance Collard to St Kilda with pick 28 on Monday night - and under AFL rules, not being able to do anything about it.
“These four kids might not be in the AFL system without the Academy,” Hardwick said of his four draft picks. “The investment is incredible, the amount of time and effort put into it. To be honest, it caught me by surprise how much work goes into it."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.