SANFL head of talent Brenton Phillips has shed some light on what happens after a player’s name is read out on draft night, detailing the sacrifices clubs make when securing young talent.
Phillips has been monitoring South Australia’s homegrown products since 2007 and has seen how well draftees get treated.
He says steps are put in place as soon as a player officially joins an AFL club, when the teenagers are whisked away to live with a host family if they’re moving states.
“As soon as a player has been drafted, they’re basically handed across to the player welfare manager, who then liaise with family, liaise with host families in the state they’re going to,” Phillips told Sportsday SA.
“They put them in with a host family for at least the first six months to get themselves settled, and then they work out which way they want to go from there.
“Then they might start to look to go out into their own units or house or whatever their circumstances might be after that, I must admit they do it very well these days the AFL clubs.”
While living their new lives, the draftees are well compensated for their talents.
Phillips said the salaries they receive are “awesome” and many draftees have very few expenses, due to the levels clubs go to look after them.
“Picks 1-20 you’re on a base salary of $105,000 a year, 21-40 you’re on $95,000 and 41 and up you then go onto $90,000 a year, and rookies are rookie listed at 85,000 a year,” he said.
“They get a bonus on top of that in terms of $4,000 per game bonus … if you’re a top 20 draft pick, you might average 10 games in your first season, so you’re looking at probably taking home $145,000 in your first year of football straight out of school, which is a fair wage.
“For your first wage, it’s awesome.
“They are looked after … they’re not paying board, they’re not paying add-on fees, so that sort of money goes straight into their pocket.
“They’re at the club 24/7, they’re fed when they’re at the club, so there’s not a lot of expense that come out of that wage either.”
It’s all part of a $200,000 investment to turn the draftee into the best possible player, which is why clubs invest so much energy into getting it right.
“The amount of data that they receive on these young men these days … the amount of data we pump through to AFL clubs about our players is quite remarkable,” Phillips said.
“It costs a club about $200,000 to draft a player, so they want to get it right and they have done that quite well over the last 10-15 years, you don’t get too many misses inside your first-round draft choices.”
The National Draft is to be held on November 24 and 25, with Phillips anticipating “two or three” South Australians to be taken in the top 20.