THE RULES that prevent Richmond from replacing retired forward Ben Griffiths on its list this season are farcical and are denying a new player an opportunity, according to premiership coach Damien Hardwick.
The Tigers will enter 2018 with a dormant list spot after Griffiths, who is pursuing a career as an American football punter, retired in January, well after the final list lodgment date of November 29 last year.
Hardwick has long been an advocate for mid-season player movement and said his club had spoken to the AFL for the past three years about introducing more windows for clubs to improve their list.
The League has forecast the introduction of mid-season player movement in coming years, but Hardwick will need to wait until at least 2019 after changes for this season were recently ruled out by new football operations manager Steve Hocking.
"I still feel the AFL is behind the times with player movement and we've got to get our head around how that looks," Hardwick told AFL.com.au.
"I find it farcical that we can only improve our list once a year.
"I do not understand what we have to do to give a guy that's playing fantastic footy in the VFL, or wherever it may be, an opportunity through the year if we have significant injuries.
"We've just lost Ben Griffiths, who's chosen to pursue a different career, and we've got a list spot there that will remain unfilled.
"Every kid who is kicking a ball around this day and age wants to play AFL footy and we've got a spot available that will sit for the whole year. That's 12 months no one gets an opportunity and it's disappointing for mine."
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan last year gave a clear indication that he would like to see a mid-season trade period, telling AFL.com.au's Road to the Draft podcast: "I think there needs to be more player movement. If you actually want to get clubs that are well managed climbing quicker, then freer player movement helps that".
Hardwick said he was also a fan of the increased player movement that had come with free agency, but clubs needed to have more power when it came to shaping their lists.
"I'm a big advocate for free agency and I think after a certain period at a club players should have the ability to earn a bigger contract somewhere else," the coach said.
"But having said that, the players have all the power at the moment, and we probably should get something back for that."
Griffiths' retirement has left the Tigers short on established tall forwards and it is likely the club would have used a mid-season trade or draft window to pursue a key position player either as insurance for Jack Riewoldt or to play alongside the vice-captain.
Still, after playing the majority of last season with a successful small forward line and with Riewoldt as the sole key target, Hardwick said unearthing another tall wasn't a priority.
Rookies Callum Moore and Mabior Chol are the two young forwards most likely to earn selection if a second key target is needed and Hardwick said both had been exciting on the track this pre-season.
The coach was wary of moving Toby Nankervis forward if ruckman Shaun Hampson is able to recover from a back injury that is still restricting him and holding him out of main training.
"If you look at how the team finished up last year to how it starts this year, [the structure] is probably going to be about the same," Hardwick said.
"That's not to say we're not hoping some of these players jump up, and if that player happens to be a tall then he plays.
"Many would say we were unconventional last year, I'd say we were unique in the way we went about.
"I'm looking forward to seeing those players jump up."