THE CHANGED timing of the NAB AFLW season has seen clubs become creative in how they manage unselected players.
With all state league seasons having come to an end for the year, rival Victorian clubs have become collaborators, falling into two rough groups to provide players for weekly "scrimmages".
Melbourne, North Melbourne and Collingwood have formed one regular party, with Richmond, Essendon and the Western Bulldogs in another pool.
Geelong and Hawthorn have chipped in on occasion when player ability allows. Carlton pooled resources with the Bombers and Tigers in round two, and Fremantle and Port Adelaide in round three when the latter two were in Victoria.
St Kilda's extensive injury list means it has not yet taken part.
Clubs have turns at taking the lead in matches – for example, Melbourne and North Melbourne will face off, with Collingwood players provided to both sides to boost numbers.
Train-on players (each club has access to up to 10 state-league players to help with match simulation drills at training) have also been taking part.
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The AFL has provided support by providing VFL umpires for the scrimmages, with another hitout to take place with a SANFL umpire in South Australia this weekend between Adelaide and Port Adelaide, topped up by Greater Western Sydney.
The Crows have two more sessions planned throughout the season, a second hitout against the Power (supported by Fremantle) and providing top-up players for a Gold Coast-Brisbane scrimmage.
The match simulations have been crucial in helping Collingwood tall Ash Brazill, among others, in returning to football, the Pie booting four goals the week before she was recalled to the team following netball commitments since January.
Young Gold Coast key forward Giselle Davies also forced her way into the Suns side for her AFLW debut on the back of a strong showing in a match simulation session against Brisbane.
The Suns and Lions include their train-on players in the sessions, which are also valuable in assessing both players' long-term futures at the club and week-to-week prospects.
Gold Coast and West Coast had their own hitout for unselected players in round two when the AFLW sides met.