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Why the complaints about the northern Academy gems have been absent

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A DEAFENING silence has accompanied this year's draft chatter.

Namely, the complaints about the northern clubs' Academy gems have been noticeably absent.

It's no secret why: just five such players scored an invite to this year's NAB AFL Draft Combine, while a further six are attending a state Combine and two others are going to the Rookie Me Combine.

In comparison, there were six Academy members at last year's AFL Draft Combine, 10 went to a state combine and three tested at the Rookie Me Combine.

Only Greater Western Sydney prospect Tom Green (No.5) featured in the top 30 of AFL.com.au draft guru Callum Twomey's August update of his 2019 Phantom Form Guide. 

One Next Generation Academy member, Fremantle's Liam Henry (No.12), is in the same elite group. 

The NGA system is considered the AFL's peace offering to the other 14 clubs – outside of the Giants, Sydney, Brisbane and Gold Coast – and gives them priority access to indigenous and multicultural talent.

More tinkering is taking place, with South Australian and Western Australian clubs set to receive greater access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players in their NGAs from 2020.

The Swans will have no Academy players at the 2019 AFL Draft Combine, and just one each at the Victorian state combine (Hamish Ellem) and the Rookie Me Combine (Luke Parks).

They, of course, have benefited from the same system, with top-liners Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills and Nick Blakey the pick of the bunch. 

The next test of rival clubs' reaction to Sydney's feeder pool, in particular, will come next year, when midfielders Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden are eligible to be drafted.

Neither is considered in Heeney's, Mills' or Blakey's class – and they are both sub-180cm at this stage, with only Campbell given a shot to surpass that – but both project as likely first or second-round picks.

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Any adverse club feedback risks being hypocritical, given how 2019 is unfolding and the general consensus that all Academies will have swings and roundabouts. 

The GWS (Liam Delahunty and Tom Green), Gold Coast (Connor Budarick) and Brisbane (Noah Cumberland and Will Martyn) Academies will all be represented at this year's AFL Draft Combine. 

The Swans and Giants each tip in more than $1 million annually into developing their Academy players, while the Lions and Suns continue to increase their Academy expenditure. 

THE NORTHERN ACADEMIES

2019 NAB AFL Draft Combine
Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Will Martyn (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast Academy)
Liam Delahunty (GWS Academy)
Tom Green (GWS Academy) 

2019 State Combines
Keidean Coleman (Brisbane Academy)
Kobe Tozer (Brisbane Academy)
Matt Conroy (Gold Coast Academy)
Josh Gore (Gold Coast Academy)
James Peatling (GWS Academy)
Hamish Ellem (Sydney Academy) 

2019 Rookie Me Combine
Matt McGrory (GWS Academy)
Luke Parks (Sydney Academy)