SOME of the country's leading NAB AFL Draft prospects could be back playing in July as a leading Victorian schools system targets a term three return.
There were fears that draft hopefuls may not get to play again this season and show their wares after the coronavirus suspended their season before it had begun.
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AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said in March that club recruiters could need to draft players off previous years' showings with the doubt they would feature again in 2020.
However AFL.com.au understands the Associated Public Schools of Victoria’s sports body briefed schools last week about its aim to commence winter sports, including the football season, at the start of term three.
The adjusted school dates in Victoria sees term three due to begin on July 13.
A return in late term two, although not officially dismissed, has been all but ruled out as students continue to undertake remote and home schooling under COVID-19 guidelines.
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The APS competition features 11 private schools – Brighton Grammar, Carey Grammar, Caulfield Grammar, Geelong College, Geelong Grammar, Haileybury, Melbourne Grammar, St Kevin's College, Scotch College, Wesley College and Xavier College.
This year's leading No.1 pick contender Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Scotch) is a part of the competition, as are a number of other potential first-round talents, including selections Will Phillips (Caulfield), Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Grammar), Archie Perkins (Brighton), Finlay Macrae (Xavier) and Reef McInnes (Scotch).
AFL recruiters are regular watchers of the competition's games, particularly given players are required to play for their schools ahead of their NAB League sides.
Usually the schools play each other once and a premiership is decided based on who finishes atop the ladder, but a modified fixture appears likely for 2020, with the APS considering a number of options.
They include splitting the competition into two or three groups as a 'round-robin' format whereby the group leaders then play off in finals for the premiership.
It could also just host a shorter single competition with reduced rounds, while there has been the proposal to push the end of the season into term four to ensure each team plays each other once.
Either way the winter sport leagues are set to delay the APS' spring sports, which include athletics and water polo.
It would likely still be up to each individual school to decide to whether it would compete in the sports, with the Victorian government also required to reopen schools.
National restrictions will be reviewed next week by the federal government, although Victorian premier Daniel Andrews says each state and territory will make its own decisions.
Last year there was seven first-round picks who came out of the APS system, including Gold Coast's top-two selections Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson.