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“This is real now”: Port Adelaide leading the push for national reserves competition


A national reserves competition could potentially become a reality for the AFL.

That is according to SEN SA’s Michelangelo Rucci who suggests that a full nation-wide reserves league is continuing to gather momentum.

Port Adelaide is one club eager to make the break from its current competition with a disband from the SANFL seeming highly likely.

Power chairman David Koch again alluded to that scenario at the club’s best and fairest recently.

“The two AFL clubs (including Adelaide) play under different rules to the other SANFL clubs which makes success difficult and frankly, has a detrimental impact on the development of our AFL players,” Koch said.

“No other AFL clubs have this imposition on their player development. It is an issue we are working to solve in the near future one way or another, and we will solve it.

“We need to be in the best second tier competition which allows us to develop our players.”

After revisiting those words, Rucci spoke of Port’s desire to get out of the SANFL in what he describes as a “no-blame divorce”.

“That was the red rag to the bull, wasn’t it,” he said on SEN SA’s The Run Home.

“The SANFL and Port have met, let’s call it a no-blame divorce.

“Because the SANFL has got to look after its competition and the eight traditional clubs.

“Port Adelaide has got to look after its development program and its needs in the AFL. They don’t match anymore.”

Rucci also referenced West Coast’s desire to join an expanded VFL competition or a newly-orchestrated AFL reserves league, while believing the Adelaide Crows will follow Port out of the SANFL.

“So it’s only a matter of time now,” he continued.

“It’s now up to the AFL to leave the platform, as we heard West Coast say only last week. They’re waiting for this national reserves (competition).

“Port will be in straight away and Adelaide will be close behind them.

“This is real now, very real.

“Adelaide is right there with Port, but won’t be as vocal. And you can understand why, their history with the SANFL and so forth. They’re quite happy to let Port be the frontman for it.

“They will be there.”

Co-host Kym Dillon admits it will be a sad day when the 36-time SANFL premiers do fall out, but does not see any other way forward from an AFL perspective.

“It’s sad for the SANFL,” he said.

“It drops down to another level when it eventually happens.

“But if you’re serious, and we’ve said it for a long time, the AFL has to have its own reserves competition.”

This notion has been floated many times before but never took flight under Gillon McLachlan’s stewardship.

Rucci would like to see incoming AFL CEO Andrew Dillon finally bring to life a full reserves competition.

“If I’m going to throw a dart here, I still look at what Gillon McLachlan said many years ago when he wanted to sort out what was under the AFL,” Rucci concluded.

“He never did it and I hope Andrew Dillon sorts it out because we cannot abandon the grassroots of this game. That will hurt the AFL in the long run.”


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