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Gaff to return in AFLX after prefab draft

Football

Banned West Coast star Andrew Gaff will return to playing in the revamped AFLX pre-season competition under Bolts captain Patrick Dangerfield.

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The February 22 four-team tournament at Marvel Stadium will be the first time Gaff has played since the AFL tribunal banned him for eight games.

While the draft was broadcast on TV and the internet from 7pm on Wednesday, it has emerged that the selections were made the day before.

It is the first draft in AFL history to be pre-recorded, with TV production and logistics understood to be the reasons.

The punch that left Fremantle opponent Andrew Brayshaw with a broken jaw cost Gaff his place in West Coast’s premiership team and the Eagles onballer will also miss the first two games of the premiership season.

Dangerfield picked Gaff with his fifth choice in the draft, at No.18, from a pool of about 90 players.

Eddie Betts, captain of the Deadly indigenous side, had the No.1 pick and he went for Fremantle speedster Bradley Hill.

Dangerfield went for Geelong teammate Tom Hawkins with his first choice, while Collingwood star Scott Pendlebury will play for Nat Fyfe’s Flyers and Rampage captain Jack Riewoldt used his top pick to recruit GWS utility Lachie Whitfield.

The AFL shook up the modified competition and introduced new rules after last year’s debut only attracted lukewarm interest.

The four all-star teams have 14 players each for the mini-tournament, with eight on the field during play.

Hawthorn veteran Shaun Burgoyne (Deadly), Brisbane veteran Luke Hodge (Bolts), Western Bulldogs ace Marcus Bontempelli (Flyers) and new Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps (Rampage) were confirmed already as the vice-captains.

New Hawthorn recruit Chad Wingard (Deadly), Collingwood joint best and fairest Steele Sidebottom (Bolts), Richmond key defender Alex Rance (Flyers) were drafted.

After Whitfield, the next two picks from Riewoldt were leaders, with new Adelaide co-captain Rory Sloane and veteran GWS co-skipper Phil Davis joining his squad.

Richmond’s Dustin Martin and Sydney’s Lance Franklin head the top players not picked in the draft, while Hawthorn’s reigning Brownlow Medallist Tom Mitchell is out for the year with a broken leg.

Franklin is recovering from injury and it’s understood Martin was also unavailable for AFLX.

Of the top 10 from last year’s Brownlow Medal, Melbourne pair Angus Brayshaw and Max Gawn, Collingwood’s Dayne Beams and St Kilda’s Jack Steven also did not feature in the draft.

While Betts’ squad is all-indigenous, the other three captains had steal cards to use after their sixth picks to snatch players from rival squads.

Fyfe poached Bulldogs onballer Lachie Hunter from the Rampage to join his star-studded midfield and Riewoldt then used his steal card to bring Essendon onballer Dylan Shiel across from Dangerfield”s squad.

– AAP

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