ESSENDON could miss out on talented Tiwi Islands prospect Anthony Munkara due to the AFL's expanded protected zone of the NAB AFL Draft with Next Generation Academy players.
The Bombers have access to the exciting Indigenous forward, who is a member of the NAB AFL Academy and is playing for West Adelaide in the SANFL having moved to school in South Australia, due to their NGA region in the Northern Territory.
But clubs will this year only be able to match bids on NGA prospects outside of the first 40 picks in the draft, with Munkara's early-season showings making him a likely earlier selection according to recruiters.
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Clubs have been asked by the AFL for feedback about the NGA program and its future, with some pushing for the restricted part of the draft to be limited to just the first 20 picks, as was the case in 2021 when Melbourne was not able to match a bid on NGA talent Mac Andrew (pictured below), who was pick five to Gold Coast.
Although change has been floated, nothing has been locked in and it would not be in place for the 2022 draft.
Munkara kicked two goals for West Adelaide's under-18s side in its round one clash over the weekend and also impressed in pre-season games. The speedy 188cm prospect will be a part of the national AFL Academy side that comes together early in the season for a clash with a VFL club.
Adelaide could also miss out on a player due to the top-40 cut-off for the NGA prospects, with the Crows having tall forward/ruckman Isaac Keeler at this year's draft. Keeler, a 198cm ruck/forward, trained with the Crows over summer and has been part of the Academy for the past four years.
There will again be a large group of players eligible to join clubs via the NGA program this year, with St Kilda having access to a number of prospects including Cameron MacKenzie, who has started the season impressively through the midfield with the Sandringham Dragons. He had 18 disposals and kicked a goal on Sunday in the NAB League.
The Saints had a record four players drafted by the club last year through their NGA – Mitchito Owens, Marcus Windhager, Jack Peris and Josiah Kyle.
Collingwood have access to Oakleigh Chargers pair Yuyu Ashwin and Riley Voulanis, Calder Cannons prospects Matt Foley and Carlos Egan are tied to the Bombers and Geelong have Ted Clohesy and Xavier Muhor amongst their Academy.
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Finn Emile-Brennan, a talented and skillful prospect, is linked with Melbourne's NGA while Fremantle (Conrad Williams, Josh Draper, Jasper Scaife and Chase Bourne) and West Coast (Jordan Baker) also have eligible NGA prospects this season.