SYDNEY, Collingwood, Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs are among the clubs who have been given a boost by a rule change on the eve of the NAB AFL Draft.

Clubs have been informed that a significant change has been applied to this year's bidding system in light of the reduction in list sizes and the trading of future picks last year.

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Under normal AFL rules, clubs who are matching bids for northern Academy, Next Generation Academy and father-son players are only allowed to use draft points from the amount of picks that is equal to the number of their available list spots. 

This has been to stop clubs from stockpiling late draft picks with the intention of only using them to pay for highly rated draftees, even if they had more picks at the draft than they had list spots available, which was an early loophole of the live bidding system.  

But clubs will not be bound by that rule at next month's national draft after the League gave clearance for clubs to use points from draft picks even if they are not going to use the selections to draft players. 

In essence it means that the Swans, who will be forced to match bids for Academy pair Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden, could theoretically take six picks to the draft but only pick up three players, but use the remaining selections for points purposes. 


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Although a subtle tweak, it is an important change in a draft year that is so heavily filtered with players already tied to clubs via Academies and under father-son links.

It will also benefit the Western Bulldogs, who have grabbed a number of extra selections to be able to pay for a possible No.1 matched bid for Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, as well as the Power, who hold six picks and have ties to NGA talent Lachie Jones and father-son Taj Schofield. 

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Where in previous years the Power would have only been able to use points from the picks commensurate to how many list spots the club had available, this year they could essentially grab their two linked players and use the rest of their draft hand to help cover the points cost. 

The Magpies, with speedy tall midfielder Reef McInnes, and Hawthorn, with line-breaker Connor Downie, are other clubs with Academy ties who will be waiting to see where bids fall, while Fremantle (Joel Western, Brandon Walker), Brisbane (Blake Coleman, Carter Michael) and Essendon (Cody Brand, Josh Eyre) are others clubs who also have their eyes on Academy players. 

Reef McInnes in action for Vic Metro in the U17 Futures. Picture: AFL Photos

The AFL will revert to its usual rule next year, having allowed the clubs a one-off change given some had prepared for matching bids by already trading out future selections during last year's exchange period.   

It informed clubs last week that lists will be cut to a minimum of 37 players and a maximum of 44 players, inclusive of rookies (category A and B).