New AFL rules to suit draftees from Victoria’s junior competition

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James Worpel came through the system and debuted this year in a top four team. 

By NATHAN JOHN 

When the AFL player movement window opened this month, clubs were making list management decisions without knowing the rules that will apply in 2019.

As their focus now turns to the draft, the new rules are in place, and these could change the playing field for the teenagers conscripted from Victoria’s elite junior competition.

The primary change will require each team to field six players in each arc and six in between at the centre bounce, a watered down version of the TAC Cup’s “anti-density” rules.

The 6-6-6 rule. Source: 9Now.

Under present TAC Cup rules, at any stoppage or kick-in coaches must ensure that five players remain inside their forward half with two inside the arc.

The rules were implemented to ensure talented players can showcase their skills to recruiters without being obstructed by flooding tactics.

Geelong Falcons talent manager Michael Turner said the newly minted AFL rules would help draftees from Victoria adjust to the elite level.

“The anti-density rule in our competition opens up the game,” he said.

“It’ll suit the players [drafted from the TAC Cup].”

Turner said it would make it easier for Victorian players to transition into the AFL, something that is envied interstate.

“Everything they’ve been taught at our level is just an extension of what they’re taught at an AFL club.”

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Turner said players who had been through the system – like Hawthorn recruit James Worpel, who debuted in 2018 and cemented a position in a top four team – found it much easier to make the next step.

“Training, the [intellectual property], the high performance, the medical, he said it was the same. It was just at a higher level,” Turner said.

Early in 2017, former Sydney Swans and Melbourne coach Paul Roos said the anti-density rules in the underage competition made it difficult for recruiters to forecast whether a young tall could make the grade.

“When you’re a tall [in the TAC Cup], the game that you’re going to is so far different to what game you’re playing,” Roos told Triple M.

Northern Knights talent manager Rhy Gieschen said the move to the six-six-six formation could bring the competitions closer together, but it wasn’t an issue in the first place.

Gieschen said players can be trialled in different roles by TAC Cup coaches to determine their suitability for the pace and structures of elite senior competition.

“I don’t think many key position players would be drafted these days without a quality running capacity, and that’s something the AFL clubs identify in the players,” Gieschen said.

“If they need to see that more at TAC Cup level we’re happy to oblige and play them a little bit higher up the field or play them on the ball or on the wing.”

The 2018 AFL National Draft will be held across two days from November 22 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.