Rugby League

‘Open-minded to it’: AFL to consider mid-season trading of picks

The AFL will look at a mid-season trade period of draft picks allowing clubs to trade national draft picks with clubs for mid-season draft picks.

The league is not looking at trading of players between clubs mid-season but is open to the idea of trading picks between the various drafts.

Under the idea raised by the league’s football manager Brad Scott a club could trade their draft pick from the national draft in November with a club to get access to a player they want in the mid-season draft.

“I think any way we can get more flexibility into the way we can get our player movement system works is something we should look at,” Scott said.

“I am not sure the industry is quite ready, or fans are ready, for players to be playing for them one week and another club the next week. But we are open-minded to it.

“In the short-term a mid-season trade period (of players) is not on the table but it is certainly something we will investigate.

“You might have Melbourne say ‘what if we trade picks? We really want that kid in the mid-season rookie draft so we will trade a pick in the national draft to get first pick in the mid-season rookie draft to get the player we want’.

“I am just throwing that out as an idea. These are things we are talking about to say how can we provide some flexibility while addressing all the concerns you raise (about tanking if clubs were to be able to trade players mid-season)?”

In a temperature check of the competition after eight rounds Scott said the statistics reinforced what had appeared to be the case about a shift to more attacking football.

Scott said that, pleasingly: margins in games were lower, even with the poor seasons of West Coast and North Melbourne; the number of unbroken chains of play transitioning the ball from defence to attack had risen; and big key forwards were having a bigger impact.

“Twenty-nine times this year we have had a key forward kick five goals or more in a game. As a reference that only happened 50 times for the whole season last year,” Scott said.

“Harry McKay going down won’t help that but when you think of Tom Lynch, Curnow, Hawkins, Cameron, Wright, Max King, Ben King being out. The big forward is now a real weapon.”

Scott said he was comfortable with the push in the back rule and liked to see a test of strength between key forwards and backs in marking contests.

“We want to see big forwards assert their dominance in marking contests. If it’s a clear push pay it but, personally, I like the test of strength,” Scott said.

He said the rule changes were not the cause of the shift towards more attacking offensive football for that had to be coach-driven but the rule changes deliberately made it harder to lock games down and encouraged the coaches to be more attacking.

“I am not sure the industry is quite ready, or fans are ready, for players to be playing for them one week and another club the next week. But we are open-minded to it.”

“The narrative has always been we need to skew things back to give offence a chance because defence was just winning and when teams got a three goal lead they would just lock the game down. That is very, very difficult if not impossible to do now,” he said.

“You can’t stack numbers behind the ball at centre bounces. You can’t play a really compressed congested style defence where the man on the mark is your first layer of defence. Whether you like that (stand) rule or not it makes it extremely difficult for teams to go defending for long periods in games.

“So now teams can come back and that gives them a chance to win and that keeps people engaged in the game but it’s also, quite frankly, a better style of footy.

“If you are a coach now and you don’t focus on offence well it’s going to be hard to get back into games because you are not going to be able to hold up the dam wall for very long. Your best form of defence now is offence.”

He said the AFL was not unduly concerned with North Melbourne still struggling in the lower reaches of the ladder saying they had a nucleus of good young players from top draft picks and were a team in transition.

“It’s difficult at the moment but in the medium term no I am not concerned,” he said.

The AFL would also review the medical sub at the end of the year and consider changes such as allowing a team without an injury to use their medical sub if the opposition got the chance to bring on a fresh player to replace an injured one.

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