After months of discussion, build-up and form guides, the 2021 NAB AFL Draft is only hours away.
For North Melbourne Kangaroos fans tonight's event holds special significance, with the club holding the No.1 selection for the first time in its history.
As countless hopefuls begin to dream of their names being called, here is your pocket guide to one of the most exciting events in the footballing calendar.
When is the Draft?
The 2021 NAB AFL Draft will be held across two nights at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne:
- Wednesday, November 24th, from 7.10pm AEDT: round one selections, consisting of the first 18 picks
- Thursday, November 25th, from 7pm AEDT: the rest of the national draft.
How does the draft work?
The initial draft order is determined by a team’s position on the ladder. 18th place earns pick one, 17th place earns pick two, 16th place earns pick three, and so on. However, teams are allowed to trade picks and bid on father/son or academy prospects, triggering a change in the order.
An important mechanism in spreading talent more fairly across the competition, the national draft was introduced in 1981, and it has, in some capacity, been held every year since 1986. Before the draft's introduction, players had limited options in finding a club and were recruited via zoning laws. The area in which you lived and the team you played for determined which club was eligible to recruit you.
Which picks will the Kangaroos have?
The club's starting selections in the 2021 AFL Draft are: 1, 20, 42, 47, 71 and 75.
For the first time in history, North Melbourne holds the number one draft pick. Whoever the Roos select will surpass club great Daniel Wells, who arrived via the No.2 pick in 2002, as the club’s highest draft selection.
The Kangaroos’ second selection this year, No.20, falls just outside the first round, leaving the club in a strong position heading into the draft's second night. The club's final four picks should all end up climbing up the order, due to top-end prospects Sam Darcy and Nick Daicos both being eligible to be bid on with father/son selections.
How can I follow the Draft?
For Kangaroos fans at home and around the world, North Media will keep you up to date on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and nmfc.com.au. We will bring you all the essential info on the club’s selections, plus behind-the-scenes access and highlights of all the new recruits in action.
Both nights of the national draft will also be broadcast live within Australia on Fox Footy, as well as streamed on Kayo Sports, the AFL App and AFL.com.au.
Who are some of this year’s best prospects?
Finn Callaghan: At 191cm tall with a classy left foot, Callaghan is the embodiment of the modern AFL midfielder. Able to win the contested ball or provide run on the wing, he is also one of the most efficient kicks in this draft class.
Nick Daicos: Eligible to be recruited as a father/son selection, Daicos is set to join brother Josh in the Collingwood ranks. A well-rounded accumulator of the football, he's also a goal threat going forward and has a strong football IQ.
Sam Darcy: A potential father/son selection for the Western Bulldogs, Darcy is capable of playing as a key defender, key forward, or in the ruck. At 204cm and still growing, Darcy’s slim frame may see him take some time to develop, but he looms as the strongest key position prospect of the draft.
Jason Horne-Francis: A versatile and athletic midfield/forward option who has impressed playing senior football for South Adelaide in the SANFL. He put in a head-turning performance in the SANFL preliminary final against Glenelg, finishing with 24 disposals, 3 goals, 11 clearances and 10 score involvements in a losing side.
Ben Hobbs: A pure inside midfielder, Hobbs’ composure when winning the ball at the contest is a rare attribute for someone so young. An ankle injury that required surgery shouldn’t turn teams away from potentially selecting him early in the draft.
Josh Rachele: A natural small-forward who can pinch hit in midfield, Rachele possesses the kind of X-factor that can't be taught. While clubs traditionally don't select small forwards with the top picks in the draft, his ability to create opportunities out of nothing could easily tempt clubs to take him early.
Who else are the Kangaroos likely to take?
As well as their choice of the country's best talent at pick No.1, the club will have its eyes on Jackson Archer, who has nominated as a father-son prospect. A medium-sized defender, Archer is the son of Kangaroos legend Glenn Archer, who played 311 games for the club, including the 1996 and '99 premierships
What happens after the draft?
While the draftees make arrangements to travel to their new clubs, young hopefuls who missed out have a further opportunity to find their way onto an AFL list via the NAB AFL Pre-Season and Rookie Drafts, on Friday 26 November from 3pm AEDT.
Following those drafts, clubs have until Monday, 29 November at 4pm to lodge their final playing lists with the AFL.