AFL pre-season draft

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The AFL pre-season draft is the drafting of uncontracted players to teams in the Australian Football League. The draft is conducted after the national AFL draft and before the start of the next AFL season. It is conducted at the same time as the AFL rookie draft. The pre-season draft is a place for any uncontracted players to nominate that missed the AFL draft or who were delisted after the main draft. It was first held in 1989 and has been diminishing greatly in its importance; the last five years have only averaged 8 selections per year, compared to over 50 in each of the first five years.[1] It was considered that the pre-season draft only existed to protect the league from writs for restraint-of-trade,[2] but due to the introduction of free agency in 2012, there have been calls to scrap the pre-season draft and extend the free agency period.


Clubs receive selections in the draft based on where they finished on the AFL ladder during the year, for example, Melbourne finished last in the 2008 AFL season, therefore receiving the first pick in each of the three drafts (national, pre-season and rookie). Teams have the choice of whether to participate in the pre-season draft; many clubs fill their playing roster at the national draft, and hence do not participate in the pre-season draft. Also, unlike the national draft, picks in the pre-season drafts cannot be traded between clubs.


Historically, the pre-season draft has involved mostly recycled players. Until 2008, due to the standard players contract expiring at the end of November, players who did not wish to sign a new contract with their current club were forced to enter the pre-season draft if they were unable to be traded to another club during the trade week held prior to the national draft. There was no free agency in the AFL to allow uncontracted players to easily move clubs until after the 2012 season. Delisted players had the option of nominating for either the national or pre-season drafts. In 2008 the rules were changed to also give uncontracted players the option of nominating for either draft.[3] However, the number of players being selected after being delisted or coming out of contract is diminishing, as most teams are not prepared to pick them ahead of younger players.[4]

The lack of free agency was a powerful bargaining tool during trade week, as the team with the first pick can refuse a trade for a current uncontracted player at another club, and then recruit the player that wants to join their team for free with the first pick in the pre-season draft without giving anything to the other club.[5] Conversely, the threat of losing a player for nothing into the pre-season draft can force a team to trade him for less than the player's true value.[6]

The main reason for players not nominating in the national draft is that those who nominate for the pre-season draft may set the terms for their contracts; in contrast, all players selected in the national draft are not able to set a minimum acceptable contract period or salary.

Given that changes to each AFL club's playing list is strictly restricted to the three drafts and the trade week, the headline news following each pre-season draft is often who wasn't selected, as much as who was selected. In the 2005 draft this included that Shane Woewodin, the 2000 Brownlow Medal winner, was not selected, and hence would not play football at AFL level in 2006. In 2008, the main story was about whether another Brownlow Medallist, Ben Cousins would be selected, which he subsequently was with Richmond's pick 6.[7]

Number 1 picks[edit]

Number 1 picks in the Pre-season drafts are as follows. As the pre-season was originally held towards the end of the pre-season in January or February, the naming of the draft is based on the following season. This is different from the naming of the national draft (which occurs in November), which is named according to the season just completed. Hence the 2008 national draft was held on 30 November 2008, whilst the 2008 pre-season draft was held on 11 December 2007.

Notable pre-season draft picks[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Sinclair, Cameron; NAB AFL Pre-Season and Rookie Draft facts 10 December 2007
  2. ^ Reilly, Stephen; Opening new trade routes next goal; The Australian; 11 October 2008
  3. ^ Ralph, Jon; Uncontracted players to decide on draft entry; 13 October 2008
  4. ^ "Draft exposes cold realities". Sydney Morning Herald. 2006-11-27. Retrieved 2007-10-24. 
  5. ^ "Loss a big win for Tigers". Fox Sports Australia. 2007-09-01. Retrieved 2007-10-24. 
  6. ^ "Warnock won't come cheap". Fox Sports Australia. 2008-09-11. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  7. ^ AAP; Tigers confirm Cousins talks;; 12 December 2008