FAQ | The 2023 Over-age Draft
OVER-AGE talent across the nation could be in-line to achieve their AFL Women’s dream following an announcement by the AFL yesterday. Early next year, another AFL Women’s Draft will be held, but prior to the junior and state league seasons, and will only contain those eligible for a previous draft. That means that those players born in 2004 or older will be able to be selected by clubs, with the “official” 2023 AFL Women’s Draft to be held later next year to aline with the men’s competition’s draft period.
WHAT HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED?
There will be an over-age draft held in February or March next year. Players who turned 18 in 2022 or before (ie. 2004-born or earlier) will be the only eligible draftees. The draft order will remain the same as it has in the competition’s history, with the reverse ladder order for selections. At this stage, Sydney has Pick 1, Fremantle has Pick 2 and Port Adelaide has Pick 3.
HOW DOES IT AFFECT THE DRAFT PICK QUALITY?
Effectively the value of draft picks plummet for the over-age draft. To compare to the men’s competition, an equivalent would be hosting the mid-season draft as an end of year draft. In that sense, there are usually anywhere between 10-20 players that end up on AFL lists, as they are those who were left on the table from the previous year’s draft.
There is still quality out there that could prove players wrong – as we have seen in the men’s competition with the likes of John Noble and Jai Newcombe but ultimately, it is made up from those who missed out the previous year.
To put it in perspective, there were 87 players selected either in the AFL Women’s Draft or as free agents after that. That means that Sydney’s Pick 1 is effectively Pick 88, and that is even dependent on whether clubs are eligible to keep their injury replacement players, which would then push Sydney’s first selection out to 101st overall. For a team like an Adelaide, Brisbane or Melbourne, they will be picking the 120th-odd best player from the 2022-eligible draft crop.
That process is made more difficult by the fact that the players have not been able to play any seasons in between – with the exception of some state-based matches in Queensland and the odd-representative outing.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE OVER-AGE DRAFT?
Effectively, Season 8 – likely to go back to be renamed the 2023 season – will take place. From there, the season will play out as per this year, before another draft – the “traditional” AFL Women’s Draft will take place. There, the 2005-born talents will be eligible, with names such as Lauren Young, Shineah Goody and Brooke Barwick will be available. Much like the over-age draft – and the other drafts – it will also be reverse-ladder order.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR CLUBS?
It is a setback for clubs down the bottom of the ladder this season, because simply, they will not get value for money. If they try and trade picks, they are worth far less, so it means that to get value for players to try and improve, clubs must trade actual players.
One suggestion floating around was the ability to trade future picks – such as those from the 2023 AFL Women’s Draft – like they do in the men’s competition. This would enable clubs to trade picks at value, in order to improve their lists sooner.
However that is also fraught with danger, because it could mean lower clubs trading picks to be more competitive in the short-term, whilst ultimately giving contenders higher picks come end of year to restock.
Ultimately, for contenders who do not need much to top-up their list, the lack of top-age talent in the drat will not affect them as much as the bottom sides. While the bottom sides will rely on topping up young talent prior to the season, the contenders will likely make minimal changes, and instead only move on retirees, and back in what they already know. That could mean the Season 8 ladder could look similar to the Season 7 ladder, bar key inclusions back from injury.
WHAT ARE THE PROS?
The benefits of holding this draft are squarely focused on those players who perhaps had season-long injuries that would have missed Season 7, or those who were wanting to focus on their Year 12 studies. For the players that were on the precipice of that, this is a great opportunity for them to show what they have and earn a spot on an AFL Women’s list.
In most cases, clubs will likely select training partners as those players have already been training within the club, and are known to the playing group. That allows team chemistry to remain high, and requires minimal assimilation into the group. However there will still be names outside those training partners who could earn a spot on the list that are of AFLW-standard.
A perfect example could be Hawthorn looking at a mature-age player who was going to play half-back, but due to the excess of players, the Hawks overlooked them. In the wake of Jess Duffin retiring, a spot has opened up for that player. While the Hawks might focus purely on the young talent in the 2023 AFL Women’s Draft, it opens up a chance for that player to have a season with the club and try and earn a contract for future years.
WHO ARE PLAYERS THAT COULD EARN SPOTS ON AFL WOMEN’S LISTS?
Rookie Me Central will have articles tomorrow outlining some players who might make the jump up to the elite level. These are both top-age (ie. 2004-born) who were unlucky to miss out, as well as some over-age players who could get the call-up to provide extra support for clubs. Keep an eye out for those articles.