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Giants lose access to top talent in academy overhaul

Talented midfielder Charlie Spargo is longer tied to GWS through its academy zones - ${keywords}
Talented midfielder Charlie Spargo is longer tied to GWS through its academy zones

GREATER Western Sydney has lost access to at least two potential early picks at this year's NAB AFL Draft after the League confirmed it had stripped back the club's wide academy region. 

The AFL has cut the Giants' access to potential top-five pick Jarrod Brander and highly rated midfielder Charlie Spargo after cutting its access to players from the Albury/Murray region. 

The changes are among a sweeping overhaul of the academy system, which will limit the number of top-end players accessible to a club every year.

The League's release says the changes were endorsed by the AFL Commission last week due to the growing strength of the northern academy clubs.

Greater Western Sydney have selected five academy prospects as top-20 picks in the past two national drafts, which has led to a number of rival clubs questioning their hold on football rich areas of the Murray and Riverina region.

The Giants said they are "disappointed but acknowledge" the AFL Commission's decision.

"The club has made a number of submissions to the AFL executive and Commission over the past six months. The premise of these presentations was that the Giants Academy was working to the AFL Commission's own strategy and original aims of attracting young athletes to play Australian football and to provide them a development program," the club said.

"The club maintains that the AFL had the strategy right in relation to the Academy system and that its equalisation responsibilities were protected by the recently established draft bidding system."

The Giants pointed to their list that has 32 per cent of its players from NSW and the ACT as an example of the academy program's successes.

The ladder position of a club will now have a direct influence on how many academy players it can draft inside the top-20.

For a team that finishes in the top four, the club will only be able to select one academy player. For a team finish in from fifth to eighth, there will be a limit of two players inside the opening 20 picks, while there will be no limit placed on sides outside the top eight.

There had previously been no limit on the number of academy players a club can select in any given draft.

The Albury/Murray region will be retained by the Giants but only as a Next Generation Academy zone, meaning they will only get priority access to multicultural and indigenous players from that region.

Losing first call on Brander and Spargo is a blow for the Giants, with the key position prospect Brander in the mix as a possible No.1 choice. 

He can play at both ends of the ground, mark well above his head and is a reliable kick, while Spargo, the son of former North Melbourne and Brisbane player Paul, is a small but tough and smart midfielder.