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AFLW: The next stage

With the 2018 AFLW season underway, you may be wondering when we will sign our very first North Melbourne Tasmania Kangaroos player.

Below, we will give you an insight into how the competition works and give you a glimpse of what is happening behind the scenes at Arden Street.

What the current competition looks like…

The teams competing in the 2018 AFLW season remains unchanged from its inaugural year:

- Adelaide Crows
- Brisbane Lions
- Carlton
- Collingwood
- Fremantle
- GWS Giants
- Melbourne
- Western Bulldogs

An additional two teams will enter the 2019 competition after their bids were approved:
- North Melbourne
- Geelong

In 2020 an additional 4 teams will enter the competition: 
- Gold Coast
- West Coast
- Richmond
- St Kilda

Hawthorn and Essendon were unsuccessful in their bids, but will be eligible to apply for the 2021 competition.

Sydney and Port Adelaide have chosen not to apply for a side as yet but are eligible to apply for a side in 2021.

How will players be signed to North Melbourne Tasmania Kangaroos?

The first intake of players will occur in the Expansion Signing period, held not long after the AFLW season concludes.

During this period the club will look to bring in established talent from other AFLW clubs to lead the team in its inaugural season. The list management team is currently scouting the AFLW competition and identifying players of interest, and when the expansion period kicks off will be able to make formal offers to players. The player's existing club has an opportunity to counter-offer, with the players then available to decide on their club of choice.

There is also the potential to sign Open-Age and Cross-Code players in this expansion period, with both Geelong and North Melbourne eligible to sign players over the age of 18 who did not play in the AFLW in 2018.

Throughout this period, the expansion clubs will be able to sign just over half their 2019 lists.

How does the AFL dictate the draft order?

At the conclusion of the expansion period, the AFL will formulate the 2019 AFLW Draft order and notify clubs of their selections, with the ability to compensate existing clubs who lose current players, as well as afford expansion clubs priority selections.

When will players be signed and traded?

After the draft order is finalised, a sign and trade period will be held. This gives existing AFLW clubs the opportunity to re-sign and delist current AFLW players, as well as trade with other clubs. However, North Melbourne Tasmania Kangaroos will only be permitted to the draft picks assigned by the AFL in this period. This will give the club the potential to bring in more AFLW Talent, or maximise its draft selections prior to the 2019 AFLW National Draft. A free agency window will likely be held at the conclusion of the sign and trade period, allowing clubs to sign delisted players should they have the list space.

When will the AFLW 2019 Draft take place?

The club will finalise its 2019 playing list at the National Draft, likely to be held in October. Interestingly, unlike the AFL Draft, the club's list management team will know its draft selections during the women’s State League seasons and months in advance of the National and Rookie Draft. The club has priority access to players who nominate for the Draft as residing in Tasmania, meaning there will be a strong Tasmanian flavour to the club's draft intake.

What resources does North have for the AFLW team?

The team at Arden St has grown exponentially to facilitate the introduction of the inaugural women’s team. The Arden St facility will be expanding to accommodate the extra team, including change-rooms and work space for the additional resources, from physios to administration. 

The upside for North…

The AFLW competition will have been established for two years before the North Melbourne Tasmania Kangaroos come on board, meaning there has been time to learn about the landscape of the competition.

With all current AFLW players on one-year deals, the upside for North is that it is not limited to approaching a handful of players out of contract at their respective clubs.

How will the North Melbourne Tasmania Kangaroos work across the two states?

The logistics are still being worked through, but the North Melbourne Tasmania Kangaroos will strive to have half of the playing list recruited from Tasmania. With a number of talented Tasmanians currently at AFLW Clubs, as well as a wealth of talented youngsters and cross-code athletes residing in Tasmania, the club will explore all avenues to ensure it is maximising the talent available across the state.

An AFLW Talent Search is currently being held across Tasmania in Hobart, Launceston and Ulverstone, with the club able to scout talent coming through in the state, and get a good look at potential recruits for the 2019 season and beyond.