MAC ANDREW has put his name on the map as a possible Next Generation Academy pick-up for Melbourne after the ruckman's exciting start to the NAB League season.
But it remains unclear if the AFL's new Next Generation Academy rules, which prohibit clubs from matching bids on their Academy talents within the first 20 selections, will affect any clubs in 2021 with fewer top-end NGA players than previous seasons.
Andrew, who was born in Egypt but whose parents are from South Sudan, is a 200cm ruckman for the Dandenong Stingrays and is tied to the Demons for this year's NAB AFL Draft.
He blitzed in the Stingrays' opening game of the season with 22 disposals, six clearances and 11 hitouts against Gippsland Power and took the eye of scouts with his athleticism, skills and movement across the ground. He had 12 disposals and 24 hitouts on Sunday in the Stingrays' loss to Greater Western Victoria Rebels.
The Dees will have first access to Andrew, but only if a bid comes for the longer-term prospect after pick 20, after significant changes to the NGA system last year following clubs' cutback of investment in the program.
Last year saw NGA talent Jamarra Ugle-Hagan end up at the Western Bulldogs with the No.1 pick and fellow NGA player Lachie Jones land at Port Adelaide as a first-round pick (No.16 overall), but if they were in this year's pool their Academy clubs would only get the chance to match the bid after pick 20, with the top rungs of the draft protected.
It means clubs will be hoping their NGA players develop well and perform across the season but stay outside the first 20 selections so they can retain access to them. Otherwise, if they are inside that bracket, a club will not have to place a bid on the player and they will be treated as a regular open-draft player without any Academy or father-son ties.
Under the revised rules, players who attract bids in the 20-40 range will have to be matched under standard Academy rules, while all players selected from No.41 onwards can be matched by their club using their next available selection.
The phase-out of the NGA program will continue in 2022, with the protected zone of the draft extended to pick 40. Only after that will clubs be able to match bids on NGA talents.
During the upcoming recess of the NAB League competition Melbourne is expected to increase its work with Andrew, including the potential of him featuring for their VFL side Casey Demons.
Collingwood's Youseph Dib looks the early standout NGA prospect of this year's pool and will be on the cusp of the protected part of the draft. Dib has been training with the Magpies over summer, alongside father-son prospect Nick Daicos, and has impressed with his craft as a small forward.
He has begun his season with the Oakleigh Chargers as an attacking half-back and shapes as an impressive draft option. Dib finished sixth overall in the NAB League's agility test (7.98 seconds).
Although it is a leaner crop of top-end NGA talents this season, a number of players still start their draft campaigns under the watchful eyes of clubs.
Jesse Motlop, the son of former Kangaroo and Power forward Daniel, has been approved as an NGA prospect for Fremantle and has caught the attention of scouts, while St Kilda also has a group of players – including competitive half-back Angus McLennan, Marcus Windhager and Jack Peris – who will attract interest.
Adelaide has access to exciting small forward Blayne O'Loughlin through its Next Generation Academy, with the nephew of Sydney great Michael impressing with his skills.