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WA, SA clubs seek parity on metro indigenous talent

South Australian indigenous star Izak Rankine was taken by the Suns with pick No.3 in the draft this year - AFL,Draft
South Australian indigenous star Izak Rankine was taken by the Suns with pick No.3 in the draft this year

THE AFL'S South Australian and West Australian clubs are anxiously waiting to find out if they will gain access to metropolitan-based indigenous talent in their Next Generation Academies.

West Coast put a proposal to the AFL at the start of the year on behalf of itself, Adelaide, Port Adelaide and Fremantle requesting a key alteration to the indigenous zones in their states.

Those clubs now receive access only to indigenous footballers living in rural and remote regions.

However, players with a multicultural background who fit the NGA criteria and live in metropolitan areas are available to be developed and selected in those states.

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As with the northern academies and father-son prospects, clubs have first call on players in their NGA at draft time and can choose to match a rival team's bid.

The main annoyance for the Crows, Power, Dockers and Eagles with the status quo is that all indigenous and multicultural prospects in Victoria are assigned to a club.

The idea would be to divide the unassigned metropolitan zones between the two clubs in SA and WA.

Another aspect to the proposal is what happens to the eligibility of those players who become top-20 draftees, such as South Australian whiz Izak Rankine in this year's edition.

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Clubs that finish in the top four in the previous season to the draft are restricted to matching just one bid in the first 20 picks for a player from their NGA or northern academy. understands the AFL is seriously considering the proposal, but the final result is still unknown after months of deliberation.

Any potential changes would almost certainly not be in place until 2020.

The NGA system remains one of the game's most contentious issues in clubland, with the AFL introducing it at least partly to appease officials complaining about the northern academies.

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Brisbane, Gold Coast, Greater Western Sydney and Sydney – considered non-traditional football states – gain access to all players in select areas assigned to them.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire was perhaps the staunchest critic of the northern academies.

However, in an irony the northern clubs didn't miss, all three of the Magpies' national draft selections this year were NGA prospects (Isaac Quaynor, pick 13, and Atu Bosenavulagi, pick 77)  or a father-son (Will Kelly, pick 29).

The AFL also removed the Albury/Murray region from the Giants' Academy last year, a decision that cost them access to highly rated teenagers Jarrod Brander and Charlie Spargo.

GWS retains the Albury/Murray zone purely for NGA purposes now.

One development that has amused the northern clubs is the call for a greater draft discount for academy and father-son players.

The discount for first-round draftees is capped at 20 per cent, with the deduction enabling clubs to match a rival bid with fewer points, encouraging them to invest in their assigned areas.