MELBOURNE recruiting manager Jason Taylor has called on extra layers to be added to the Next Generation Academy rules that are likely to see the Demons miss out on talented prospect Mac Andrew at this year's NAB AFL Draft.
The AFL changed the NGA rules for 2021 meaning clubs will not be able to match bids inside the first 20 selections of the draft for their multicultural and Indigenous Academy players. From pick 21 onwards, they will be able to select them under the bidding system.
Next year, they will only be able to match bids for NGA prospects after pick 41 in a significant phasing out of the program as a talent option for clubs after last year saw Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Western Bulldogs, pick one) and Lachie Jones (Port Adelaide, pick 16) attract first-round bids as NGA players.
This year Dandenong Stingrays talent Andrew is the highest-rated NGA prospect in the pool and could be selected as a top-10 pick, meaning the Demons would not be able to match a bid on the athletic 200cm ruckman who was born in Egypt but whose parents are South Sudanese. Andrew's rapid development this season has come after not being a member of the Vic Country or AFL Academy programs until this year.
"Mac was at our very first training session back when he was 14 so he's obviously coming from a fair way back there. He's shown some significant growth over this year. I last saw him play before the COVID shutdown at a practice game at Beaconsfield where he was really raw in his football but he showed some of those athletic traits," Taylor told the Road to the Draft podcast.
"To see the growth in him this year has been fantastic for our footy club to see the work we've put in over that period of time that he's started to blossom, albeit it has been interrupted.
"The Dandenong Stingrays have done some enormous work with Mac as well. That's the frustration that he hasn't been part of any of the [AFL] Academy programs along the journey so I'm not sure where that sits with rule changes and the like."
Taylor said there should be other factors taken into account on the Academy's 'protected zone' from matched NGA bids, including the player's specific pathway and the role of the club in their development.
The Demons' scouting boss, who has led the club's recruiting since 2013, also said the cut-off should be at pick No.18 given that accounts for each club's first-round selection, not No.20.
"I'm certainly not a political person but sometimes there can be slight kneejerk reactions in elements of decision-making and I just felt there's maybe extra layers to it. Like, have they been a part of the under-16s? Have they been a part of the Country or Metro or West Australian or South Australian Academies prior?" Taylor said.
"That can be taken into consideration to actually add an extra layer to that decision making but at the end of the day we work within the system we're in and that's all we can do."
Melbourne traded its future first-round pick to Brisbane last year as part of a deal that saw them grab this week's NAB AFL Rising Star Jake Bowey and the yet-to-debut Bailey Laurie. It means the Dees' first pick for this year's draft is set to be in the mid-30s.