Recruiting stars will be tough: Matthews - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Recruiting stars will be tough: Matthews

By Laine Clark 17/06/2009 06:27:42 PM Comments (0)

Still licking their wounds after missing out on St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt, the new Gold Coast franchise received a sobering warning from AFL legend Leigh Matthews ahead of their 2011 debut.

"In the AFL, players are not deciding their future 12 or even six months in advance," former Collingwood and Brisbane premiership coach Matthews told a sports luncheon on the tourist strip on Wednesday.

"I can't really see that any player is going to commit until the middle of next year.

"I don't think anyone is going to put his hand up and commit now.

"But the middle of next year when there is an AFL club ready to go (for 2011), that's realistic."

It was hardly music to the ears of Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna who was sitting right next to Matthews at the function.

Especially after missing out on the perfect candidate for their inaugural poster boy, Gold Coast product Riewoldt, who recently re-signed with the ladder-leading Saints for another four years.

If that did not ram home the point, the recent re-signings of other Gold Coasters David Hale (North Melbourne) and Sam Gilbert (St Kilda) showed that club loyalty still remained strong in the AFL.

But the AFL's 17th team have been granted a host of recruiting rights, among them the opportunity to secure one uncontracted player from each of the 16 existing clubs.

The Gold Coast will start with $1 million more in their salary cap than their 16 rivals and will also be rewarded with nine of the first 15 picks in the 2010 draft.

Picks can be traded for experienced players and the GCFC has already indicated they would be prepared to use that to lure a superstar.

However, Matthews made it quite clear to GCFC just how hard recruitment would be.

"It means a shift for those players. It's not going to be easy but at least you have the lieu time to go about it," he said.

GCFC's hit list reportedly boasts Geelong stars Gary Ablett and Joel Selwood, Hawthorn pair Luke Hodge and Jarryd Roughead and Western Bulldogs' Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney.

Asked who they should target, Matthews said: "The best players in the competition.

"Chris Judd has just come over to Carlton (from West Coast) so I don't think he is going anywhere else but (Geelong's) Gary Ablett you would say."

But McKenna and Gold Coast chief operating officer Scott Munn believed their concessions and recruiting rights would more than make up for the loss of Riewoldt.

"In a 12 month period from November we will have 21 of the best 27 kids available in Australia - that's a fair start," McKenna said.

"And if we got all centre half-forwards it would have been ludicrous to go after Nick Riewoldt."

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