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No priority picks but AFL strugglers to get first crack at state league talent


AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has confirmed cellar dwellers Carlton and Gold Coast will not be handed priority draft picks.

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The AFL Commission met in Melbourne on Monday, with the league settling on an assistance package that will give the Blues and the Suns first crack at the best players available in state leagues across the country instead.

Carlton and Gold Coast, who finished 18th and 17th respectively this season, would be allowed to recruit at least one player outside the draft system under the proposed plan.

They could do so with the intention of boosting their playing stocks or on-trading them to gain extra draft picks or experienced players from rival clubs.

“If you help (with draft picks) then you’re doing that at the expense of the competition generally,” McLachlan told SEN today.

“There was an assessment that the clubs had a lot of young talent. I think Carlton have got 18 first round picks and they’ll get the No.1 pick again this year.

“Gold Coast have got 15 first round picks on their list and they’re going to get picks two and 15 this year if Tom Lynch goes to another club, which is I think accepted, so they’ll get pick three as well.

“So there was a view that they needed some mature bodies.”

Tim Kelly’s success at Geelong in his first AFL season has put the spotlight back on recruiting mature-aged talent.

Kelly, a 24-year-old midfielder, played 23 games for the Cats in 2018 after he was picked out of the WAFL.

Geelong coach Chris Scott has been a vocal critic of the plan to allow struggling clubs special access to such players, citing the extensive work his recruiting team has already done before this years draft.

Carlton’s failure to land a priority pick, which would most likely have come after the top 10, could hurt their efforts to work a trade for wantaway Adelaide forward Mitch McGovern.

The state league move could increase the chances for the likes of Norwood’s Mitch Grigg – Jack Oatey medallist in Sunday’s SANFL grand final – to be offered a second chance in the AFL.

– with AAP

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