THE FRUIT borne by the northern academies is now starting to sweetly service the entire AFL.
Sydney, Brisbane, Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast have developed and drafted plenty of talent since they were granted access to building academies, but now players are spilling out – with great success – into the rest of the competition.
The Swans have Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, Nick Blakey and Errol Gulden, among a host of others, to show for their hard work.
Brisbane has Harris Andrews, Keidean Coleman and Eric Hipwood, the Giants have Jacob Hopper, Harry Himmelberg and Tom Green, while the Suns have Jack Bowes, Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey.
There are success stories everywhere.
The new poster boy for the academies and the benefit they provide the rest of the League though is the latest NAB AFL Rising Star nominee, Richmond's Noah Cumberland.
Cumberland, from Queensland's Sunshine Coast, was passed by the Lions at the 2019 NAB AFL Draft when the Tigers placed a bid at pick No.43.
Brisbane had previously chosen Coleman and saved a later pick to nab West Australian Jaxon Prior.
Cumberland is the latest, but certainly not the only, success.
Mabior Chol, in the conversation as the most impactful recruit to change clubs this season, was another Lions Academy graduate snapped up by Richmond in the rookie draft at the end of 2015.
After six years at Punt Rd, Chol headed to the Suns via free agency following last season and is now in the top 10 in the Coleman Medal race with 43 goals.
Brisbane and Sydney started their academies in 2005, while the Suns (2011) and Giants (2012) did so when they entered the AFL.
Originally, clubs needed to only use their next pick following a bid from a rival club. Remember Sydney using pick 18 to get Heeney when Melbourne bid with pick two?
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That was until 2015 when the Draft Value Index was established, requiring the northern clubs to match bids with a cumulation of points, making things a touch tougher.
After Chol, many others left their 'home' club, with many still currently on lists.
Players taken by other clubs: Mabior Chol (Richmond, now Gold Coast), Noah Cumberland (Richmond), Will Martyn (Richmond).
Players taken by other clubs: Braydon Preuss (North Melbourne, then Melbourne, now Greater Western Sydney).
Greater Western Sydney
Players taken by other clubs: Harry Cunningham (Sydney), Dougal Howard (Port Adelaide, now St Kilda).
Players taken by other clubs: Luke Parks (Carlton), Ben Davis (Adelaide), Jack Buckley (Greater Western Sydney).