THE NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft is back.

After a hiatus due to the COVID-19 interruptions last year, clubs can once again supplement their lists halfway through the campaign by selecting from some of the best talent outside the AFL. Here are the key questions answered.

When is the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft?

The evening of Wednesday, June 2, in the week following round 11. Nominations for eligible players opens at 9am AEST on Monday, May 10 and close at 5pm AEST on Tuesday, May 25.

So who is eligible for this draft?

Clubs are able to recruit any footballer who nominated for the 2020 NAB AFL Draft, or who was delisted at the end of the 2020 season. Any player who was delisted at the end of 2020 cannot be re-selected by the club that delisted them, unless they nominated for the NAB AFL Draft.


Does that mean Gary Ablett jnr can make a comeback?

Errrrr, no. Unfortunately, AFL rules stipulate that players who have retired must be out of the game for 12 months before they can be recruited back onto an AFL list during either the Pre-Season Supplemental Selection Period (SSP) or the mid-season draft. Although we'd love to see Gary Ablett jnr back on a footy field, it won't be this year.

But does it mean Kade Simpson can make a comeback?

Yes, it does. Technically, unlike Gary Ablett jnr, Kade Simpson was delisted by Carlton and never officially retired. That means he can be recruited in this draft. However, due to the aforementioned rules, because Simpson never nominated for last year's NAB AFL Draft he will be ineligible to be recruited back to the Blues. There are a number of other clubs who could have their interest piqued by Simpson's desire to return to AFL football, though.

Carlton great Kade Simpson leaves the Gabba after his final game for the Blues in round 18, 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

What about players part of an AFL Academy?

If an eligible AFL Academy member – either through the Northern Academies or through Next Generation Academies – opts to nominate for the mid-season draft, they can be selected by any club. However, if they elect against doing so – or if they're not picked up – they keep their eligibility for their respective Academy sides ahead of the end-of-season NAB AFL Draft.

What's in it for the players?

Firstly, the opportunity to make their way onto an AFL list and play football at the highest level. Players recruited in the mid-season draft are also able to renegotiate the terms of their contract during their time at an AFL club, just like any player. A six-month contract, which would end in October, is worth around $50,000. Meanwhile, players taken mid-year who are then delisted at season's end and do not find an AFL home elsewhere are given an extra $20,000 as per AFL rules.

How can I watch the mid-season draft?

It will be broadcast live on the AFL Live Official App. Time is yet to be confirmed.

Why do we have a mid-season draft?

It was reintroduced in 2019 as a means of limiting the impact of long-term injuries and premature retirements among AFL clubs. Holding the draft at the halfway point of the year enables clubs to replenish their lists for the second half of the campaign, and perhaps even finals.

How many picks can clubs have?

Clubs have the option of leaving list spots available after the previous season's trade and draft period, as well as after the SSP. They can also open further list spots throughout the first half of the season, should they suffer a long-term injury or have a player prematurely retire from the game before the end of their contract. St Kilda and Gold Coast currently have the most list spots available, with both clubs able to select four players each as things stand. The Saints had one list spot available after the trade and draft period, before losing Dylan Roberton to retirement and Jade Gresham and Ben Paton to season-ending injuries. The Suns have lost quartet Connor Budarick, Matt Conroy, Rory Thompson and Jarrod Witts to season-ending injuries.

How is the draft order determined?

Similar to the draft at season's end, the order for the mid-season draft is determined in reverse ladder position . The order is taken after the completion of round 11. That means that should they have a list spot available, the team in 18th will pick first, the team in 17th will pick second, and so on.

Has a mid-season draft happened before?

Yes. Having not been undertaken since 1993, the mid-season draft was reintroduced for the 2019 season. Carlton selected first and claimed Josh Deluca from Subiaco, with Marlion Pickett, John Noble and Ryan Gardner also among the other notable players recruited that year. It unfortunately did not take place last year due to the truncated season in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.