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Trade and draft rules for four AFLW expansion sides revealed


The rules the four AFLW expansion clubs must follow when building their lists has been revealed by the league.

Sydney, Port Adelaide, Essendon and Hawthorn will join the competition in 12 months, which will lead to a chaotic period of player movement.

Each list is made up of 30, meaning whether it’s the draft, trade or free agency, there will be 120 players up in the air.

The AFL has revealed five rules that will be used as a guide by the expansion teams.

1. Open-age Signing: Expansion Clubs may sign any player who has previously nominated for the draft and is not a listed player with any AFLW Club.

This will be critical as it will allow the new teams to pluck veterans and recently delisted players to fill out their list depth.

Geelong used this to great affect when they joined the competition, signing now-captain and star defender Meg McDonald after she was moved on by the Western Bulldogs.

2. Under 18 Talent: Expansion Clubs may sign under 18 talent from their NGA region prior to the draft. There will be a limit on the number of players per Expansion Club who can be signed by this mechanism.

All access to players via avenues outside the draft will be important for these teams, particularly Port Adelaide and Sydney.

3. Expansion Signing Period: The Expansion Signing Period will be held prior to the Sign and Trade Period. During the Expansion Signing Period, expansion Clubs may sign players who are currently listed with an AFLW Club. Each expansion Club can sign up to a maximum of 14 AFLW listed players.

This will be the key. North Melbourne successfully built their list by luring talented players from other clubs when they entered the competition and Hawthorn and Essendon will similarly want to use their VFLW connections and their ability to sign two marquee players on big contracts each to make big splashes.

The Power will likely look to grab at players from their crosstown rivals, potentially even Erin Phillips, given her father is a Port Adelaide legend. Sydney will think similarly with GWS players, though quite a few aren’t New South Wales locals.

It remains unclear as to whether there is a cap on how many players an expansion team can poach from an existing team and whether there is a limit or if they have access to players contracted for a further season.

4. Sign & Trade Period: The Sign & Trade Period will be held following the Expansion Signing Period. The expansion Clubs will not be permitted to trade players who they have signed under one of the mechanisms outlined at 1 - 3 above.

Given the draft stock these expansion teams will have, they may also be quite active leveraging it for more experienced players.

__5. NAB AFLW Draft: A state-based draft will be held following the Sign & Trade Period. The expansion Clubs will receive the first eight picks. The order of the expansion clubs will be based on random selection. For the remainder of the picks, the draft order will be based on existing clubs’ 2022 finishing positions with the expansion Clubs then added to the end of each round. The final draft order may be affected as a result of the Expansion Signing Period and will be finalised ahead of the 2022 NAB AFLW Draft.

The AFL here confirms the four expansion clubs will each have two of the first eight picks in the draft, to be determined by random lottery. We have not seen this since the inaugural draft back in 2016, where GWS drew pick one and Carlton landed the first Victorian selection.

As always, expect the league to fiddle with the draft order based on the results of the 2022 season and based on the success of the respective teams in the signing period.

We saw Geelong handed a much stronger draft hand than North Melbourne when the two teams entered the league together, simply because the Roos were more successful at luring rival players.

Given state based drafting is still prominent, Hawthorn and Essendon will essentially split the four best Victorian players, the Power receive the two best South Australian talents and Sydney the same for NSW.

The 2022 AFLW season will get underway on January 6th.

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