Knights calls for overhaul of AFL draft - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights calls for overhaul of AFL draft

By Adam Cooper, Robert Grant & Justin Chadwick 14/07/2009 05:09:30 PM Comments (0)

Essendon coach Matthew Knights has called for a lottery-like overhaul of the AFL national draft to prevent clubs tanking games for early picks.

Knights said talk of tanking at this stage of the season was a blight on the game, and called for a revamp of the system so the clubs out of finals contention could not be guaranteed early draft picks by finishing lower down the ladder.

West Coast and Melbourne will be eligible for first-round priority draft picks in 2009 if they do not win more than four games.

The Eagles are currently 12th on the ladder with four wins, having only won four games in 2008. The Demons are 15th with three wins, the same number of victories they achieved in 2008, when they finished bottom.

West Coast and Melbourne are adamant their focus with seven rounds remaining is to play to win.

Fresh from successive victories, Melbourne coach Dean Bailey said the best way to develop his young side was to gain confidence through winning.

Eagles coach John Worsfold maintained on Tuesday that winning was still the focus.

"We want to finish this year off really strong, so we're aiming to win as many games as we can," he said.

"This is a great opportunity on the road now to show what we can do and what we're aiming for."

West Coast enter Sunday's game against Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium carrying an 18-game losing streak interstate, and will be without stars Dean Cox and Daniel Kerr for at least two more games through mystery injuries.

North Melbourne (13th, four wins), Richmond (14th, three) and Fremantle (last, three) are all ineligible for first-round priority picks because they won more than four games in 2008.

But those strugglers could gain second-round priority picks if they finish with four wins or less.

Fremantle, who have lost their last eight games and managed only one goal against Adelaide last Saturday night, are currently on track to finish last and gain the first pick in the 2009 draft.

But even if the Dockers did finish last, their pick would become No.2 or No.3 if West Coast and Melbourne gained priority picks.

Knights, whose Bombers are firmly in finals contention, said tanking was not good for the game's image and not what it was about.

"I don't like it, I think it's a disgraceful word in our industry, `tanking'," he said.

"You're coaching 22 really motivated young men who, when you put them out on the ground, they want to win the game.

"I don't like it, I don't believe in it."

He called on the AFL to introduce the same system used in the National Basketball Association, that did not guarantee the bottom side the first pick, although the odds were in its favour.

"Potentially that would be a good equation that you do take away the carrot," he said.

"I think the NBA, following basketball a bit, I think there would have to be more favoured odds that the lower teams would get that first or second pick.

"But if it's in a lottery equation it does not guarantee.

"So whether you have more marbles for the lower-ranked teams, whether it be the bottom team and second-bottom and work up from there...

"When you draw them out then you know you might not get first draft pick even though you finished on the bottom, but there's a fair chance you will.

"I probably don't like the certainty of the bottom team definitely getting the first pick in the draft."

St Kilda, Carlton and Collingwood are among the sides to have benefitted from priority picks in recent years.

For losing to Melbourne in round 22 of 2007 Carlton gleaned draft picks one and three, which enabled them to select ruckman Matthew Kreuzer and then trade with West Coast for Chris Judd.

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