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Southern clubs in mix for Queensland's best

Isaac Conway at training with the Brisbane Lions this year - ${keywords}
Isaac Conway at training with the Brisbane Lions this year

QUEENSLANDER Isaac Conway looms as a draft prospect likely to cause some discussion for recruiters this year, with clubs in a stronger position to recruit the state's top hopefuls in 2013.

The end of recruiting zones in Queensland will see a change in the system this year, whereby the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast need to bid on players within their club academies in a similar manner to the father-son bidding system.

In recent seasons the Suns have had a hold on Queensland talent and have been able to automatically list a player from the state. 

Last year, Clay Cameron was the only Queenslander to be drafted to a primary list having already committed to the Suns before the NAB AFL Draft as a zone selection. 

The Suns picked him with their last selection (No.58 overall.)

The Sydney Swans are also under this process with their academy, but Greater Western Sydney has one more season under the old system, where it can add an academy player straight to its list. 

Conway is a strong ball-winning midfielder who is at his best 'inside' the contest, and is viewed by some scouts as Queensland's best prospect this year.  

He was close to being picked in the AIS-AFL Academy squad, almost joining fellow Queenslander Cain Tickner. Both are in the Lions' academy. 

The academy clubs still have an advantage over rivals because they know the players better and have worked with them closely for up to several seasons. 

But under this year's system, the Lions, Suns and Swans will need to pay market value if they want to recruit a nominated player from their academy.  

It means if a rival club viewed an academy player as within the best batch of draftees this year, it could bid its first-round draft selection to recruit him. 

The club which has nominated the academy player then has the option to match the bid with its next draft pick - much like how Essendon was forced to use pick 10 to draft father-son Joe Daniher last year after Port Adelaide bid its pick seven. 

In the past, clubs have also had the ability to pre-list a player from their recruiting zone and then trade him, like Gold Coast did with Peter Yagmoor in 2011 when he was sent to Collingwood. 

This is no longer a part of the tweaked system for the Suns, but the Giants can still access zoned players from the Northern Territory and then on-trade them to other clubs. 

Despite already being linked to clubs, other recruiters will need to judge the value of the players as well, given they also have the option to bid for them at the meeting between clubs on the Monday after the NAB AFL Draft Combine. 

That talent identification process has already begun, with two trial games between the Gold Coast and Brisbane academies taking place last month before the initial Queensland squad for the championships was picked.

Almost 1200 players are spread across the four clubs' academy programs, many several years off being draft eligible.  

Players must be in the club's academy and lived in the club's academy region for a period of five continuous years before being eligible for a primary list position.  

The player must also represent their state at the under-18 championships to be eligible. 

Follow AFL website reporter Callum Twomey on Twitter at @AFL_CalTwomey. 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs