THE TUMULTUOUS AFLW Sign and Trade period has now been completed, and it's on to the AFLW Season Eight Supplementary Draft.
Things are a little bit different this time around, so read on to find out more.
Firstly, the basics. When is it? How can I watch it?
The draft will be held on Tuesday, April 4. It will be broadcast exclusively on womens.afl, afl.com.au, the AFLW App and the AFL Live Official App from 7.30pm AEST.
A quick clarification before we get into the meaty topics – what's the difference between trade and draft?
The trade period is for currently listed AFLW players to move between clubs, and for the most part, the deals are just that: trades. Clubs agree on what will come back the other way in return for a player, whether that's a draft pick or another player.
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In comparison, the draft is for prospective AFLW players, those who are not currently on a list but want to put their name forward for consideration. Some of these players are former AFLW players, while others have been plying their trade at state leagues around the country.
I've heard there might be something special about this draft?
Two AFLW seasons were played in one year in 2022, as the AFL wanted to move the starting time from January to August.
It meant those who were drafted in June played straight away, with a large number of year 12s combining school and footy, instead waiting until the following January to play AFLW.
To make sure this doesn't happen again, this one-off draft is restricted to those who are born in 2004 or earlier (i.e. will turn 19 this year).
This means that the upcoming draft features prospects from the same pool as the previous draft.
Those born in 2005 will wait for the draft ahead of the 2023 season.
How many picks will my team have?
Because of the limited pool, the AFL has not mandated that teams take a minimum of three spots to the draft, as has been the case in years prior.
Some clubs won't participate in the draft at all, with West Coast having already filled its squad of 30.
As it currently stands, Adelaide, Melbourne, North Melbourne and Richmond will have one pick; Brisbane, Collingwood and Geelong will take two; Gold Coast and the Western Bulldogs will be busy with three; while Carlton and Fremantle will be adding four players.
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Essendon, Greater Western Sydney, Hawthorn, St Kilda and Sydney are yet to publicly confirm the bulk of their lists.
Port Adelaide has a team of 32 primary-list players this season (currently at 30), while the Swans will sit at 33 after they received assistance from the AFL following tough debut seasons.
Check back to womens.afl for the final draft order on March 31, as clubs will have well and truly finalised their lists by then.
Is it still a state-based draft?
For the first time, players will be able to nominate for a national pool, capable of being taken by any team across the country if they wish.
If players want to stay in their home state (e.g. for work, study or personal reasons), they can choose to nominate for a state-specific pool instead.
However, the Charlie Rowbottom/Montana Ham loophole – nominating a specific state that's not their home state – is no longer on the table. In the past two drafts, both No.1 picks were Victorians who moved states.
Tasmanian players can choose to nominate for North Melbourne (given the club's alliance with the state's women's program), any state of their choosing, or the national pool.
Players who are based in the Northern Territory have the option of nominating for a specific state of their choice, or the national pool.
Geelong has the No.1 pick. Is there a hot favourite for the best of the draft class?
Given 83 players were selected in last year's draft, and no new 18-year-olds have been added to the pool, it's better to think of this draft as being more akin to the AFL's mid-season rookie draft.
For the most part, teams will be drafting on a needs basis, finding that last key defender, small forward or ruck they need to complete their squad of 30.
Players are expected to mostly come from the state leagues, while a smattering of 19-year-olds playing as over-agers in the Coates Talent League may come under consideration.
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What about former AFLW players? Who might get a second chance?
While there hasn't been confirmation as yet as to who has nominated for the draft, there are a few delisted players who are certainly talented enough to earn another shot at the top level.
Sophie Abbatangelo had been linked to a number of clubs as a delisted free agent, but the former Roo wasn't snapped up. Gabby Collingwood has moved to Hawthorn's VFLW side as she recuperates from a second torn ACL, Ali Brown is a steady, proven AFLW player, while Poppy Schaap is sharp in front of goal.
Abbi Moloney and El Chaston are former Pies who showed some nice signs at the top level, Matilda Sergeant has talent in spades but struggled to overcome a number of injuries and Dom Carbone, Jorja Borg and Imahra Cameron have switched to the Western Bulldogs' VFLW side.
I'm eligible for the draft - can I still nominate?
Yes, but get in quick! Nominations close at 5pm on Tuesday, March 28. Find out more by clicking on the banner below.