Nick Daicos and Damien Hardwick dragged into huge AFL trade rule change

The AFL is set to revamp the rule that has allowed clubs to benefit from father-son duos.

Nick Daicos celebrates and Damien Hardwick trains.
The AFL are set to make a huge change to the trade system after recent controversies surrounding a number of rules involving Nick Daicos (pictured left) a few years ago and Damien Hardwick's (pictured right) Gold Coast trades in 2023. (Getty Images)

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.

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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.

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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.

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).

Nick Daicos celebrates the AFL grand final win.
Nick Daicos (pictured) was a father-sons draft pick from Collingwood. (Photo by Russell Freeman/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

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."

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