Western Sydney AFL club gets draft help - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Western Sydney AFL club gets draft help

20/10/2009 08:46:08 PM Comments (0)

The AFL's desire for western Sydney to succeed quickly has been backed with more chances to recruit established players than fellow expansion club Gold Coast.

Announcing the recruiting concessions on Tuesday, league chief executive Andrew Demetriou said establishing the new Sydney club was "one of the most significant challenges ever undertaken by the AFL".

Along with investing more than $200 million, the AFL will give western Sydney a big kickstart in recruitment.

As with Gold Coast in 2010, western Sydney will be given the lion's share of early choices in the 2011 national draft.

But they will get some significant extras.

Whereas Gold Coast can spend next year poaching up to 16 uncontracted players from existing clubs ahead of their 2011 AFL entry, western Sydney will have a two-year span to do the same.

They can do so both in the lead-up to their inaugural season and their second season, although the total cap of 16 players - a maximum of one per club - remains.

In another departure from the Gold Coast blueprint, western Sydney will get a select group of talented 17-year-olds specifically to be traded away.

Gold Coast can this year sign up to 12 17-year-olds, which western Sydney can do next year.

But the NSW club will get another four 17-year-olds, spread over 2011 and 2012, who they must use as trade bait.

It is a similar scheme to that under which Fremantle traded out Matthew Lloyd and Steven King, both of whom became captains and premiership players elsewhere, before their AFL entry in 1995.

AFL legal affairs manager Andrew Dillon, who headed the group which devised the concessions, said it was one more way to ensure they started with established players.

"It's basically giving (western Sydney) a bit more currency, so it's more attractive for the current AFL clubs potentially to allow one of their players to leave," he said.

Western Sydney will also get the first eight picks in next year's rookie draft, compared to the Gold Coast's five this year.

But western Sydney high performance manager Alan McConnell said despite the incentives to build for instant results, their focus remained on youth.

"We've got significant access to uncontracted players. We've also got an ability through the four 17-year-olds to trade for experienced talent on AFL lists," McConnell said.

"My intention would be to try to recruit and develop what we bring to the club, to keep it. I certainly wouldn't be in the marketplace to be using young boys as trade bait."

He said the greater concessions than the Gold Coast were needed, because the Coast's Queensland recruiting zone was much more productive than western Sydney's backyard.

Demetriou reiterated that the success of the AFL's venture would be best judged in decades, rather than years.

"It is a generational decision and one which will be judged during the next 20 to 30 years," he said.

"The AFL commission believes it would not be doing its job if the game does not have a presence in a region of more than two million people and growing."

He confirmed they would pump more than $120 million into the club over the next six years, with another $80-100 million into grassroots programs in NSW.

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