THE NAB League could start its season in August after the AFL confirmed plans to resume the leading under-18 competition.
The country's premier junior league was suspended indefinitely days before round one in March as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
There had been fears some of Victoria's leading draft hopefuls may not play this year with uncertainty over the competition's return.
However, the AFL's head of talent Tristan Salter said the League is determined to get its NAB League up and running, with the competition on average providing more than half of the draft pool every year.
"We are currently investigating a number of scenarios that we can implement later in the year to ensure the best of our under-18 boys and girls talent can get an opportunity to showcase their skills," Salter told AFL.com.au.
"It may not look like a normal NAB League season but we are committed to providing the right platform for the players and clubs."
While the AFL is reluctant to place a date on its hope for games given the ever-changing nature of this season, it is understood works have begun on a possible return in August.
AFL.com.au believes a proposed mini-season, potentially of around six weeks, could be played before a shortened finals series or a revised and condensed format of the under-18 championships.
That season model is considered an option that would allow the leading prospects play at least some games ahead of this year's NAB AFL Draft, which will be held later in this year than usual due to exams being pushed deeper into 2020 because of the global pandemic.
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Fourteen of last year's 21 first-round picks were selected from the NAB League, including Gold Coast's top-two choices Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson, while 24 of the first 40 picks came out of the competition.
Draft prospects in South Australia and Western Australia are set to be back on the field in coming weeks as the SANFL and WAFL competitions grow closer to returns.
Private school systems in South Australia and Western Australia are also planning imminent returns, while the Victorian private schools APS competition on Friday confirmed it will resume on July 25 after splitting its league into two groups, which had been revealed by AFL.com.au earlier in May.
Clubs are also hoping the ban on interviewing prospects is lifted in July.
There are 13 NAB League sides based in Victoria, while Tasmania also has a side in the competition.
Academy teams from the northern clubs – Brisbane, Gold Coast, GWS and Sydney – also were fixtured to play a number of games throughout this season.
Potential No.1 pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan plays for reigning premiers Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League, while other possible first-round picks Will Phillips and Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh), Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons), Archie Perkins (Sandringham Dragons) and Wil Parker (Eastern Ranges) also play in the competition.