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Draft heads to Sydney for the next two years

Adam Curley  March 23, 2016 1:03 PM

KB's blues, draft move, rivalry renewed Nat Edwards and Matt Thompson with the latest footy news
It's everything we enjoy about our game and it's an incredible thing to bring to Sydney

AUSTRALIA'S best young talent will assemble in Sydney in November, with the Harbour City named as the venue for the next two NAB AFL drafts.

League chief executive Gillon McLachlan joined New South Wales premier Mike Baird to announce the decision at Parliament House in Sydney on Wednesday.

McLachlan also revealed that the inaugural McDonald’s AFL 9s National Championships will be held in Sydney, with over 100 teams descending on the city in 2016 and 2017.

As flagged by in January, recruiting managers from the AFL's 18 clubs and some of the game's brightest prospects will gather in the city for the first time since 2011, the year before Greater Western Sydney made its AFL debut.

The draft will take place on November 25, but a venue had yet to be finalised, with McLachlan saying he was thrilled to bring the important part of the AFL calendar back to NSW.

"It will be a significant event," he said.

"The NAB AFL Draft, outside of Grand Final week, is the most consumed week on our calendar in every form of media because every club and every supporter is interested.

"No matter where you finished the year before, it's about people looking ahead and optimism, hope, renewal, and about talent.

"It's everything we enjoy about our game and it's an incredible thing to bring to Sydney."

The draft had been a Melbourne institution since its inception in 1986, with Adelaide (1997) the only different venue used until 2010, when the event was taken to the Gold Coast to celebrate the Suns' admission to the League the following season.

Perth and Brisbane remain the only two major AFL cities never to host the showpiece.

The news comes after four NSW players were taken in the top 20 at last year's draft at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

The academy system allowed the Sydney Swans to take midfield gun Callum Mills with pick No.3, while Greater Western Sydney used all four of its selections on academy players Jacob Hopper (No.7), Matthew Kennedy (No.13) Harry Himmelberg (No.16) and Matthew Flynn (No.41). 

Key defender Harrison Macreadie – from the Riverina region of NSW – is part of the GWS academy and has already been touted as one of the best tall prospects in the country ahead of this year's draft. 

Zach Sproule, Will Setterfield and Kobe Mutch are other talented locals who the Giants will get first crack at in 2016.

McLachlan said he was extremely pleased with the state of football in NSW and if the Swans and the Giants can find further success this season and beyond, it would be fantastic for the code.

"It will be huge," he said. 

"We continue to invest in the base and we had an eight per cent increase in participation (in footy in NSW) last year, but people look to the top. 

"The Sydney Swans have been a extraordinarily well run and successful club for many years but people love rivalries and it's an emerging one (between) the Giants and the Swans. 

"I think when they are both competing hard for a spot in the finals and It would be great to see them playing in a final, I think that will give our game a great boost."