CARLTON is set to put a stronger emphasis on recruiting national talent from outside Victoria, having restructured its recruiting department underneath new list boss Nick Austin in the wake of 'soft cap' reductions due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Austin replaced Stephen Silvagni as the club's new head of new list management in January, with Mick Agresta subsequently moving into the role of national recruiting manager and Paul Brodie shifting into the position of Victorian recruiting manager.
Agresta, one of the most respected talent scouts in the country, had previously been the club's player acquisition and Total Player Payments (TPP) manager after seven years working alongside recruiting guru Kinnear Beatson at Sydney.
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Meanwhile, Brodie had spent the last three seasons as the national recruiting manager at Ikon Park, having arrived in early 2017 to help the club's dramatic list overhaul.
The changes come in the wake of the club being forced to halve its full-time recruiting staff from six down to three due to the financial implications of the coronavirus shutdown period.
"We feel the restructure will give us the best chance to optimise our best performance under the new climate and, moving forward, that will set us up for the future," Austin told AFL.com.au.
"With (head of football) Brad Lloyd, he's also got a background in list management and recruiting as well, so we feel the new structure gives us one of the best recruiting teams in the AFL because Brad will have an input as well."
Agresta established himself as one of the most astute recruiters in the competition throughout his time at Sydney, helping the club to identify talent like Dane Rampe, Tom Papley and Jake Lloyd from the rookie list.
Meanwhile the Blues believe Brodie's role change can help maximise his strengths, having identified six first-round draft picks from within country and metropolitan Victorian over the last three years.
"Mick has been trained heavily under Kinnear Beatson, who is one of the most respected recruiters in the game," Austin said.
"His record stacks up. We've got three full-time staff members now, so the role that Mick was currently in … there's obviously going to be some crossover with myself in recruiting and Mick into list management.
"Given the strengths of Paul, they lie within his eye for talent and his ability to watch vision … we felt that he was best suited to the role of Victorian recruiting manager."
Carlton currently has 36 Victorian players on its list, the most of any team in the competition ahead of North Melbourne (32), the Western Bulldogs (31) and St Kilda (30).
It is also the only club in the competition without a single South Australian on its list.
It will therefore put a stronger focus on identifying non-Victorian talent in the aftermath of its restructure, as clubs prepare to lean more heavily on the importance of national recruiting managers due to AFL soft cap reductions.
Victorian clubs estimate their national recruiting managers made on average more than 50 flights across the country last season, with the demands of that particular role set to grow even further in the wake of the game's shutdown period.
"The role of the national recruiting manager isn't going to be what it was previously, it's going to be lifted significantly," Austin said.
"There's been things you could delegate to recruiting officers in the past … tasks such as club visits to gather information on players, home visits, hub testing days, all of those things we're going to have to do ourselves now.
"The national recruiting manager is going to have to drive that. He's going to have to take control of everything. That will mean more travel year-to-year, because the workload is not going to be reduced but the full-time hands on deck are."
Austin arrived at Carlton with more than 14 years of experience in AFL list management and recruiting, having previously worked at Port Adelaide, Richmond and the Western Bulldogs.