THE AFL's leading under-18 competition is set for a massive overhaul next year.
The Victorian TAC Cup system – which began in 1992 – is headed for a name change and a new look in 2019 with the AFL keen to add six new teams to the competition.
AFL.com.au has confirmed that the plans for next year are that the Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast, Northern Territory, Sydney and Greater Western Sydney and Tassie Mariners will have teams play in the now national under-18 league.
This year the clubs' Academy sides, alongside the Northern Territory and Tasmania, played in the under-18 Academy series earlier in the year.
But it is likely the changed format of having the division two teams in the national junior competition will replace the Academy series.
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There are no plans to change the division one NAB AFL Under-18 Championships format, which is played during the middle of the year with the leading draft prospects.
No definitive move has been made to officially extend it to an under-19 competition although there will be more overaged players – those who have missed out on the previous year's NAB AFL Draft – who can be selected in squads.
The new sides will compete against the already standing 12 TAC Cup clubs, such as the Oakleigh Chargers and Murray Bushrangers.
The need to help lift the standard of grassroots football in Tasmania has been a major trigger for the changes to the national fixture, which also comes after the AFL announced a restructure of the NAB AFL Academy, its prestigious program targeted for the elite draftees.
The ability for more under-19 players being available for selection under the proposed changes is not understood to be a step towards the AFL changing the draft age from 18.