A SECOND NAB AFL Under-19 Championships clash between Western Australia and South Australia could be set for Grand Final week in Perth as the AFL looks to give draftees as many chances as possible to impress.
But the season is over for Victorian prospects, with the AFL cancelling the end of the metropolitan NAB League as well as plans for the under-19 carnival to be played in Melbourne which was scheduled for later this month in conjunction with a national NAB AFL Draft Combine.
The League had hoped it could play at least one more game for two Vic Metro and Vic Country squads but the state's latest COVID-19 lockdown extension has seen that ruled out due to the training and preparation required ahead of a game.
The Vic Country NAB League clubs could resume games if restrictions are eased next week and a roadmap for community sport in the regional areas indicates an opportunity for the draft hopefuls to get back onto the field.
"All levels of the game across Australia have been impacted by the health pandemic this year and it has been another challenging year for everyone connected to football. These players represent the future of Australian football and like all footy fans, we're disappointed we can’t host the best football talent in Melbourne this year," said the AFL's head of talent pathways and state league competitions Tristan Salter.
"We share the disappointment with all players, coaches, officials, volunteers and fans of the NAB AFL Championships and recognise the impact the interrupted seasons has had on boys and their families. We remain committed to supporting all players in the lead-up to the 2021 NAB AFL Draft and in their football journeys in 2022."
The NAB AFL 'Futures' game for under-17s players, normally held on AFL Grand Final day, has also been scrapped for this year.
The Combine will be held as state-based events only, with players completing the 20-metre sprint, vertical jump and agility tests as well as the 2km time trial. They are scheduled to be staged in Victoria on Sunday, October 10, South Australia on Saturday, October 16 and Western Australia on Sunday, October 17.
After several false starts, the carnival kicked off last week in Perth, with the home side beating South Australia by 29 points at Lathlain Park and potential top-10 pick Jye Amiss impressing.
And the League is considering scheduling another game between the states in the lead-up to the historic premiership decider in Perth later this month, with prospects keen to show their wares after another COVID-19 interrupted draft campaign.
The AFL will also involve the Allies into a carnival program, with players from Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory all able to be picked. New South Wales prospects, however, would be unable to feature given the state's COVID-19 outbreak.
Clubs were briefed earlier this week on the AFL's hopes of playing standalone games for Victorian prospects in October instead of the state Combine but the restrictions have seen that be unable to implemented.
PHANTOM FORM GUIDE Cal Twomey's August update
Clubs believe they have seen enough of prospects this season to make accurate assessments on their draft credentials but would clearly have wished for an uninterrupted national carnival campaign.
The NAB AFL Draft is scheduled to run over two nights on November 24-25, with the first round to be picked on the opening night before the rest of the draft is selected on the following evening. It is likely to again be a mainly virtual event as was the case in 2020.