WOULD West Coast have waited 1236 days for Jeremy McGovern to develop in a world with smaller lists?

Picked with the Eagles' last selection in the rookie draft in December 2010, the kid from Albany had to wait until round round six, 2014 to make his debut.

The construction of club lists will be flipped on its head if the consideration to cut lists by up to 10 players is implemented into 2021.

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The speculative or developmental player – like a McGovern – may not even find their way onto an AFL list.

Currently lists sit at 44. Some clubs feel they could be slashed to 35 for 2021. With the football soft cap spending to be cut by 30 per cent to deal with the financial fallout of COVID-19, a drop in nine players would be a closer reflection to the change across entire club departments.  

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Some clubs feel the AFL will fall on 38-40 players, while there is a school of thought lists may stay the same with a smaller pool of total player payments.

Over the past two seasons, each club has used an average of 36.5 players per season.




Players used





West Coast






Western Bulldogs












If list sizes are trimmed, how much room will there be for clubs to carry players with an eye to several years down the track?

"The types of players you might be looking for are the resilient ones, the durable ones, the ones that potentially don't take a long time to develop," Fremantle football boss Peter Bell told the ABC on Saturday.

"You might not be able to afford to put that 2-3 years into a player because of the smaller number on your list.

"I'm hoping it won't be dramatic, the reduced numbers, but we're really in the AFL's hands there.

"It really is dependent upon how the rest of this season plays out and what kinds of other commercial arrangements as far as broadcast deals and the like are concerned moving forward."

How many of these players would've tasted premiership success with smaller list sizes? 

Marlion Pickett (Richmond 2019)

The last player added to the Tigers' list of 44, there's no way Pickett would've been considered if the list was at 35 or 38. Now one of the competition's greatest fairytale stories after winning a premiership in his first game at the age of 27.

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Ivan Soldo (Richmond 2019)

Drafted ahead of the 2015 season when the Tigers already had talls Ivan Maric, Shaun Hampson, Tyrone Vickery, Liam McBean and Ben Griffiths. With a reduced list, they may not have had the luxury for Soldo. He played eight games in his first four seasons at Punt Road and won a flag in his fifth.

Jeremy McGovern (West Coast 2018)

As McGovern says himself, he could quite easily have been playing with North Albany if the Eagles didn't persist with him. Was stuck in the WAFL from 2011-2013, played a handful of games in 2014 and hasn't looked back since. 

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McGovern nails the winning goal

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Fletcher Roberts (Western Bulldogs 2016)

A pre-season draft selection ahead of the 2012 season. The key defender played just seven games in his first three seasons on the list and was well down the pecking order of key defenders of choice. Two years later he's standing Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett en route to an AFL premiership.   

Ryan Schoenmakers (Hawthorn 2015)

An extremely talented junior, Schoenmakers was taken in the first round of the 2008 NAB AFL Draft. Was part of the Hawks' losing Grand Final side as a defender in 2012 before rupturing his ACL in 2013. The Hawks then recruited Brian Lake and James Frawley as Schoenmakers slipped down the depth chart, forcing him to play forward for a maiden flag in 2015.

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Max Bailey (Hawthorn 2013)

Between his selection at pick 18 in the 2005 NAB AFL Draft and the start of 2011, Bailey played just six AFL games due to three ruptured ACLs. In a climate with reduced list sizes, the Hawks may have had no other choice but delisting him. He would finally play in a flag in his 43rd and final match in 2013.

Mike Pyke (Sydney 2012)

If lists are cut from 44 to 35, how many clubs will take a punt on a 25-year-old rugby convert with no football experience? The Canadian joined the Swans for 2009 and played eight games in his debut season sharing ruck duties with Darren Jolly and Jesse White. The following season Mark Seaby and Shane Mumford both arrived and Pyke still played 18 games. Despite two games in 2011 due to a quad injury, he was the No.1 ruck in the flag 12 months later alongside Mumford.