Rookie List

In 1997, the AFL introduced the Rookie List which is now recognised as one of the key list management tools available to clubs.

Over time, the size of the Rookie List and qualification criteria have been amended to allow clubs more flexibility in the way players can enter the AFL competition. It has created opportunities for players and encourages the development and recruitment of players from outside normal player pathways while the dropping of the maximum age qualification has encouraged clubs to also draft mature-age players.

With the entry of the Gold Coast Suns and GWS Giants into the AFL, clubs were permitted to have a minimum of four and up to eight players on their rookie list but starting from 2013 the maximum will be reduced to six. These six rookies are now classified as Category A rookies.

In addition to these six rookie-listed players, each club can include up to three additional players (now referred to as Category B rookies) on its Rookie List provided the player either:

• has not registered in an Australian Football competition for three years immediately before inclusion on the Rookie List;
• is an international player, meaning he is not an Australian citizen and has not lived in Australia for a substantial period;
• is a former NSW Scholarship player with that club;
• is a former International Scholarship player with that club;
• is a rookie Zone Selection for clubs based in NSW or Queensland.


Irish players can be signed directly to a club’s Rookie List under the International Player Rule and do not have to go through the draft. Previously, Irish players could not be listed as Category B rookies but took a spot on the main Rookie List.

Clubs can now list one Irish player as a Category B rookie but for each additional Irish player rookie listed, that player will be deemed to be a Category A rookie and the club will forfeit its last selection in the Rookie Draft for each additional player listed.


The Father-Son Rule previously applied to players selected at the National Draft. Under the rule, other AFL clubs can bid for eligible players who have been nominated under the Father-Son Rule by an eligible club. The nominating club can select the eligible player by forfeiting its next available pick in the draft if a bid has been made by another club. If there is no bid from another club, the nominating club forfeits its last pick in the National Draft.

A club can pre-select an eligible player as a Category A rookie between the Pre-Season and Rookie Drafts (with the player’s consent) provided the player had nominated for but was not selected by another club at either the National or Pre-Season Drafts. In that case, the relevant club would forfeit its last available selection in the Rookie Draft to take the player.


Like father-son players, under the previous AFL rules, Academy players were subject to a bidding system before the National Draft if they were nominated by an eligible club but could not be pre-selected by that club before the Rookie Draft.

Clubs with Academy programs – the Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast Suns, Sydney Swans and GWS Giants – should have the chance to pre-select local talent from the pool of players in their Academy between the Pre-Season and Rookie Drafts if those players nominated for but were not selected at the most recent National or Pre-Season Drafts.

The amendment is designed to create incentives for Academy clubs to develop talent by providing opportunities for them to rookie list players for further development.

Only draft-eligible club Academy players who were nominated by their club at the designated time and played in the National Championships are eligible to be pre-selected as a Category B rookie.


Rookie lists are now recognised as a key list management tool and designating a minimum number of rookies is no longer necessary as it is purely a club decision.