Melbourne, Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs have no one else to blame than themselves for the fact they have each lost a talented young player.
Expansion club Greater Western Sydney has developed a clever strategy of recruiting uncontracted players, and it was one that the existing clubs never thought they would do.
Melbourne chief executive officer Cameron Schwab, who sat on the working party that helped setup the expansion rules, indicated the rules were not designed to allow players of Tom Scully’s age, at 20, to be raided.
“I think the system is being used in a way that it wasn’t intended,” Schwab said.
“I think the system was put in place to allow the club to fill out its list with big senior bodies because they were going to have a group of kids playing for them.
“What they’ve done is signed with their first three selections three kids (Scully, Callan Ward and Phil Davis).”
But that is just the genius in the GWS plan.
So instead of recruiting a bunch of uncontracted 25-year-old players, who might play 100 games for GWS, they went for the younger players and have got players in the form of Scully, Ward, Davis and former Docker Rhys Palmer, who could become 150- to 200-game players.
Rumours last night at the AFL Players Association Awards night that former Brisbane Lion and AFLPA president Luke Power was on the verge of joining GWS reveals the next piece of the puzzle.
GWS will hunt players on one maybe two-year deals that will play as those “big senior bodies” while the likes of Scully, Ward, Davis and Palmer grow into those roles.
Chad Cornes and Dean Brogan have been linked to GWS also.
GWS coach Kevin Sheedy failed to put a line through recruiting Brendan Fevola and after St Kilda parted way with four players on Saturday evening, there could be a chance a Stephen Baker- or Andrew McQualter-type player might end up at the Giants as well.
The so called “steering group” for the expansion rules should have been more thorough and looked at all possibilities.
What they have created is a loop hole for GWS to pinch talented two and three year players for struggling existing clubs and they will complain but tragically they only have themselves to blame.
One simple clause along the lines of, “Players drafted in National Drafts, after and including 2008, cannot be recruited as uncontracted players,” would have saved the Bulldogs, Crows and Demons a lot of disruption during 2011 and ultimately heartache since the conclusion of the home-and-away round.