Draft watching has become an offseason pastime for avid AFL followers, with underage football coming under more scrutiny and analysis than ever before.
On Wednesday, the Gold Coast Suns announced that they were putting four veteran players onto their rookie list, but no major news carrier nor afl.com.au shared the news.
This came after the AFL decided late Tuesday that all clubs could demote two primary listed players directly to the rookie list, bypassing delisted free agency and the rookie draft entirely.
It is as yet unclear which of Jarrod Harbrow, Jack Hombsch, Zac Smith or Jordan Murdoch will go straight to the rookie list or go through the usual delisted free agency first, but all are expected to land there in the end.
Then came Thursday’s scoop from Cal Twomey that the AFL had arbitrarily decided that Suns Academy prospect Alex Davies and NT Academy star Joel Jeffrey would have to be placed on the club’s primary list, hence the larger than expected reshuffle.
Where this leaves the Suns is still not distinctly clear, but there are some indications as to how things will play out, with 32 of 38 primary spots taken up and the extended rookie list now totally full, with nine of nine Category A and both Category B slots filled.
One solid prediction for promotion is Nick Holman, who has battled away during his three seasons on the Suns’ rookie list, playing 46 of a possible 61 game. He’s one of coach Stuart Dew’s favourites for his pressure acts and role-playing, so he appears very likely to earn his primary list promotion as opposed to being delisted this late.
Next, Twomey heavily implied that Davies and Jeffrey are required to be added to the primary list because of their first-round calibre and that this was as good as done, although no confirmation has come from the club.
Then he went on to randomly suggest that Rhys Nicholls was “likely” to be taken at the draft, which makes little sense as the Suns could just pre-list him as they did with their trio last year. Or can they?
This could all be resolved with a proper press release, but it seems that the AFL interference here is over-complicating the process through little fault of the club’s.
Cal Twomey also stresses that any Academy players aside from Davies and Jeffrey can still “be listed as rookies”, which could be a way to paraphrase “pre-listed and put straight on the rookie list” or maybe not?
Meanwhile, The Age is reporting that Essendon cast-off Jacob Townsend is being offered a contract by the Suns and SEN are reporting it as fact, but so far nothing from the club.
And so, while this all seems to offer more questions than answers, here is what we know for sure: Davies and Jeffrey will bring the primary list up to 34 players, the Suns have Picks 5, 27, 76 and 84 to take to the draft or trade and Nick Holman needs to be promoted to the primary list
Here’s what we can speculate: Nicholls name didn’t randomly appear, after upgrading Holman the Suns can fill three more places on the senior list by a combination of picking at least one player on the draft, promoting rookies and/or delisted free agents, Craig Cameron has gone on record as having said that multiple rookies needed to be upgraded, most likely here, the number of Academy players that can be pre-listed may still be anywhere from two to five and any Academy players apart from Davies and Jeffrey can be rookie listed.
The forecast is cloudy for now, with sunny periods emerging at random.