(Clockwise from left): Jesse Hogan, Toby Greene, Gary Ablett jnr and Alex Pearce.

TASMANIA has its team. Now it needs its list.

The challenge for the AFL's 19th team, just like it was with Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney a decade ago, will be compiling a playing group that can be competitive almost immediately and then ready to challenge soon after.

TASMANIA GETS ITS TEAM AFL announces 19th club licence

Lessons can be learned from the concessions handed to the Suns, then the Giants, across 2010 and 2011 respectively. Both built the core of their playing lists through taking a bevy of early draft picks, but some mechanisms worked better than others.

Planning has already begun as to how Tasmania's list concessions could work, with clubs being canvassed for their thoughts. Here are how the expansion lists have been built in the past, and how it could look for Tassie.


Early picks

Across the national drafts of 2010-11, the Suns and the Giants were handed access to nine of the first 15 selections (both were given picks No.1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15). They followed that with the first pick in each of the following rounds.

That enabled Gold Coast to eventually secure David Swallow, Harley Bennell, Sam Day, Josh Caddy, Dion Prestia, Daniel Gorringe, Tom Lynch and Seb Tape with first-round picks to kickstart its first list build in 2010.

GWS then landed Jon Patton, Stephen Coniglio, Dom Tyson, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Matt Buntine, Nick Haynes, Adam Tomlinson, Liam Sumner, Toby Greene, Taylor Adams and Devon Smith with first-round selections in its first draft haul.

Greater Western Sydney draftees (L-R) Dom Tyson (pick No.3), Jonathon Patton (pick No.1) and Stephen Coniglio (pick No.2) pose for a photo during the 2011 NAB AFL Draft at Sydney Olympic Park. Picture: AFL Photos

Furthermore, both clubs had the first eight picks in the 2009-10 rookie drafts. Such mechanisms allowed the Suns to top up with Daniel Harris, Sam Iles and Danny Stanley, while the Giants claimed Steve Clifton, Jonathan Giles and Andrew Phillips.

Tasmania appears destined to secure early picks, but potentially with some caveats. Clubs expect they will have to trade a certain number of those early selections for established players, which could also create room for other teams to get back into the draft.

Speaking on Wednesday, the AFL's CEO Gillon McLachlan suggested that certain picks would be protected in the future to maintain the integrity of the draft order and ensure the struggling teams of the time aren't denied early picks.

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff, Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles and AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan at the announcement of Tasmania's AFL team. Picture: AFL Photos

"We’ve learnt a lot," McLachlan said.

"The drafts will be a lot less compromised than they've been in the past, free agency has given us leverage to do that, and we've seen there are actually a lot of mature players who are ready to play that aren't getting games across the board.

"There's more mechanisms now, and there's more liquidity in the player market, and we believe we can use that to have a very competitive team from day one with much less impact on the competition."

Signing stars

This is where the fun begins. Under the AFL's rules across 2010-11, Gold Coast and GWS were allowed to sign up to 16 uncontracted players from rival teams to bolster their initial playing lists.

They could sign only one uncontracted player from each team for no cost of their own, but also had the option of negotiating trades with another club should they wish to sign a secondary player from that team. Compensation, decided upon by the AFL, was given to clubs who lost players.

Gold Coast secured the landmark signing of Gary Ablett to go with eight other additions including Nathan Bock, Jarrod Harbrow, Michael Rischitelli, Campbell Brown, Jared Brennan, Nathan Krakouer and Josh Fraser as it searched for experienced talent.

Gary Ablett and Guy McKenna pose for a photo during a press conference in Melbourne. Picture: AFL Photos

As both Rischitelli and Brennan came from Brisbane, Gold Coast had to negotiate a trade to secure the latter. The Suns ultimately parted with prelisted player Rohan Bewick, along with picks No.5, 25 and 27, to secure Brennan and picks No.10 and 48.

The Giants went for a more youthful approach but still managed to lock away five players from rival teams including Phil Davis, Tom Scully, Callan Ward, Sam Reid and Rhys Palmer as their first signings.

One option floated for Tasmania has been to copy the assistance package delivered to North Melbourne last season, attaching picks to its finishing position that must be traded for established – and potentially contracted – talent. This is the mechanism that enabled the Kangaroos to land Griffin Logue and Darcy Tucker from the Dockers.

FULL STATEMENT AFL grants 19th licence to Tasmania

Of course, Tasmania wouldn't have a finishing position initially. But handing it priority picks that must be traded would enable the new club to secure ready-made players, while still providing adequate compensation for existing teams losing players.

There are already a host of interesting free agents that have contracts running until 2027, the date touted for the new club's arrival. These include Caleb Serong (Fremantle), Hayden Young (Fremantle), Noah Anderson (Gold Coast), Tom Green (GWS), Will Day (Hawthorn), Trent Rivers (Melbourne) and Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne). More will follow in the years to come.

There is also a thought that Tasmania could get priority access to land established talent already from the state as part of a 'get them home' push. Players likely to fall into that category include the likes of Chayce Jones (Adelaide), Lachie Cowan (Carlton), Alex Pearce (Fremantle), Jake Kolodjashnij (Geelong), Toby Nankervis (Richmond), Sam Banks (Richmond) and Ryan Gardner (Western Bulldogs).

Jake Kolodjashnij celebrates Geelong's win over St Kilda in round 21, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

It could also have a flow-on effect with future draftees, with a focus this season in particular on Tasmania's pair of potential first-round prospects in midfielders Colby McKercher and Riley Sanders.

"We've learnt a lot about list build and how we do that to ensure more immediate success, rather than longer-term success. We've learnt a lot about how you do that with limited impact on the rest of the competition," McLachlan said on Wednesday.

"In the end, in a heavily regulated and equalised game, it'll be the right people in the right spots making the right decisions. We'll reasonably quickly – and with the support of the clubs – get a set of rules to put the squad together. It'll be about good decision-making after that."

Under such concessions for signing established players, both Gold Coast and GWS were also allowed to sign up to 10 players who had previously been on a list or had previously unsuccessfully nominated for a national draft.

While neither expansion team elected to do so a decade ago, such mechanisms are more prominently used by clubs now thanks to the advent of the Pre-Season Supplemental Selection Period and the Mid-Season Rookie Draft in 2019.

The mini draft

GWS was also provided access to a 'mini draft'. It was a concession not handed to Gold Coast earlier on, but something that undoubtedly helped the Giants in their list build and their ultimate rise to becoming a contender soon after their foundation.

In the 'mini draft', GWS was allowed access to four selections over two seasons between 2011-12. Those players had to have turned 17 between January and April of that year, therefore they were not draft eligible. They also had to be traded to rival clubs, who paid a premium to secure the country's best bottom-age talent.

The Giants chose Jaeger O'Meara and Brad Crouch in 2011. They sold O'Meara and pick No.31 to the Suns in exchange for the No.4 selection in that draft, then traded Crouch and the prelisted Luke Brown to the Crows for pick No.10.

Jaeger O'Meara in his first season at Gold Coast in 2013. Picture: AFL Photos

The following year they picked up Jack Martin and Jesse Hogan. They traded Martin to the Suns for pick No.2, then shifted Hogan, the prelisted Dom Barry and pick No.20 to the Demons for picks No.3 and 13.

Access to the 'mini draft' enabled the Giants to restock with four more top-10 picks, and an additional first-round selection, over multiple years. It could be the perfect boost for Tasmania in the future as well.

Early access

There are other means for Tasmania to get additional access to draftees.

Across 2010-11, both Gold Coast and GWS were handed the ability to select up to a dozen players who had turned 17 between January and April. Those players could relocate and train full-time with the club before it entered the competition.

For example, in a hypothetical situation where Tasmania were to come into the League next year, it would then be allowed to try and sign someone like Oakleigh Chargers midfielder Jagga Smith – who is not draft eligible until 2024 – this year, as he turned 17 in January.

Back in 2010-11, the expansion clubs could then either retain those players – both the Suns and the Giants ultimately elected to keep every single underage player it selected in this period – but also had an option to trade them for established talent.

It was through this mechanism that Gold Coast secured players like Brandon Matera, Trent McKenzie and Mav Weller as underage selections. GWS used this tool to secure Jeremy Cameron, Dylan Shiel and Adam Treloar, among others.

Adam Treloar, Dylan Shiel, Dom Tyson and Jeremy Cameron sing the team song after Greater Western Sydney's first ever win during round seven against Gold Coast at Manuka Oval, Canberra. Picture: AFL Photos

Zonal recruiting

Tasmania looks certain to gain access to local state-based talent as part of regional recruiting, pending a decision on North Melbourne's current Next Generation Academy zone, which would follow the model delivered to both Gold Coast and GWS.

The Suns could recruit up to five players from a Queensland zone at the end of each season between 2010-12, and three from the Northern Territory before 2010, while the Giants had access to 16 players from zones in New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory between 2010-13 and from the Northern Territory between 2011-13.

Such mechanisms enabled Gold Coast to land players like Charlie Dixon, Zac Smith and Rory Thompson through zonal recruiting, while GWS secured talent such as Josh Bruce, Curtly Hampton and Jacob Townsend.

Securing the best local talent would be the finishing touch to Tasmania's first list build, and would enable the club to start its future by securing perhaps the next Pearce or Jack Riewoldt.