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Longer draftee contracts back on the agenda

A push for longer draftee contracts is back on the agenda with the topic set to be discussed at next week’s AFL Players’ Association agents conference.

The collective bargaining agreement dictates that players taken in the national draft sign automatic two-year deals with their clubs.

Tim Kelly signed an initial two-year draftee deal with the Cats.

Tim Kelly signed an initial two-year draftee deal with the Cats.Credit:AAP

Clubs from the northern states have long advocated for initial draftee contracts to be extended to three years in some circumstances.

Earlier this year, Greater Western Sydney chief executive Dave Matthews called for first-round draftees to sign mandatory three-year deals in a bid to protect clubs.

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Gold Coast list manager Craig Cameron said last year that longer deals for draftees would have benefits, but suggested that the AFLPA woudn’t agree to such a measure without getting something in return.

Accredited player agents will convene next Tuesday for their annual meeting in Melbourne. The Age has seen the agenda for the conference, with topics including mental health, AFLW and an update on the league’s illicit drugs policy, which is being reviewed.

The broad issue of player movement is also on the agenda. Discussion points under that subheading include reviews of the supplemental selection period and mid-season rookie draft (both of which were introduced over the past 12 months), talk about the proposed mid-season trade period, eligibility criteria for free agency, and three-year draftee contracts.

The prospect of longer contracts for draftees was discussed during the last round of CBA negotiations in the wake of several early draft picks including Nathan Freeman, James Aish and Caleb Marchbank walking out on the clubs that drafted them immediately after the initial two-year term ended.

The proposal met resistance from the AFLPA on several fronts, with concerns raised around valuing the worth of third-year players, and general misgivings about any measures restricting player movement.

The CBA expires at the end of the 2022 season, making it difficult for any changes to draftee contract arrangements before that time.

While the AFLPA has not officially changed its position on the issue, the fact that the matter is on the agenda for next week points to openness for longer draftee contracts, with the union keen to canvass the views of agents about the pros and cons of such a move.

A team like the Suns, which drafted South Australians Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine and Victorian Ben King inside the top six picks last year, would stand to benefit from the move.

Ben King, Izak Rankine and Jack Lukosius.

Ben King, Izak Rankine and Jack Lukosius.Credit:AAP

Bottom-placed Gold Coast are in the process of preparing a submission for the AFL Commission to hear later this month, with the Suns set to push for a range of measures to help their long-term fortunes.

A handful of players are generally traded every year despite being under contract, although it is rare for players to be traded at the end of their first year with a club. Geelong star Tim Kelly was denied a move to West Coast last year, less than 12 months after being drafted by the Cats, although the Giants famously traded Tom Boyd to the Western Bulldogs less than a year after the forward was taken by GWS at pick No. 1.

Meanwhile potential Port Adelaide father-son selection Trent Burgoyne, son of Port premiership star Peter Burgoyne, is among the players invited to state combines ahead of this year’s draft.

Daniel is an Age sports reporter

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