WEST Coast has called for a "discussion" about the the rules for Next Generation Academies (NGA) as Brisbane chairman Andrew Wellington showed solidarity with Gold Coast after the Suns harvested a rich draft bounty via their northern Academy.
The AFL draft on Monday and Tuesday highlighted ongoing disquiet over the Academies run by the Queensland and NSW clubs as well as frustration among the other 14 clubs about the different rules for their own NGAs.
While the northern Academies are designed to help those clubs encourage local talent in non-AFL markets, the NGAs are to nurture junior talent from Indigenous or multicultural backgrounds.
The Eagles admitted to frustration after losing NGA prospect Lance Collard to St Kilda with pick 28 on Monday night. Under current rules, clubs cannot stop rivals poaching their NGA players if a bid is place inside the first 40 draft picks.
By contrast, the four northern clubs have no such restrictions and are able to match a bid on their Academy players no matter where it comes on draft night.
This week, the Suns were able to recruit four Academy players in the first round, a bumper crop for Gold Coast and their new coach Damien Hardwick.
Hardwick was unimpressed by a suggestion the Suns' haul highlighted a flaw in the draft rules, while Wellington also defended the four northern clubs.
"Bit of angst over the #AFLDraft and Nthn Academies. Looking at 2023 AFL lists, Nthn state clubs had approx 23% of their lists drafted from the clubs home state. Average for other 14 clubs approx 60%, over 65% for Vic clubs. That's a significant gap," Wellington posted on X.
"Academies grow the game in non-traditional AFL states which makes the code stronger for everyone. They address a disadvantage which is real and based on results there’s no evidence they have created 4 Nthn super clubs at the expense of other clubs.
"Other sports are envious of what AFL is doing to grow the game. To unwind a strategy each time you get evidence it might be working appropriately would be a serious miscalculation."
Meanwhile, the Eagles could do nothing to stop Collard going to St Kilda, leading to calls for a review of the bidding rules.
"It's certainly worth discussion. We see again (on Tuesday) night that players were taken inside 40," said Eagles list boss Rohan O'Brien.
"It's really frustrating when you've done a lot of work with those players.
"We understand the rules and the objective behind trying to keep things equal. But if you're going to have the NGAs, and you're going to do the work with the players, we feel it's time for a real discussion around what that might look like."