The AFLW draft is one of the most exciting days in the football calendar. Struggling teams could find their next key player, great teams could find that missing link, and players can come out of nowhere and become stars.
The North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos are well placed in next week’s AFLW Draft with six selections, including two selections inside the first 12 in the Victorian players’ pool.
List Manager Rhys Harwood says the club’s strong position in the draft is part of a strategy through the recent sign and trade period.
“We were pretty deliberate in trying to shift our way up the order in this draft. Through the trade period we were keen on acquiring another pick early in the second round, which we were able to do,” Harwood told North Media.
“We think there’s some strong talent on offer, and with the overlay of impending expansion, we have been keen to bring some young talent through the door.
“We’ve seen the impact young players can have on the competition, with many able to come in and find a way to play and impact quite early.”
After being knocked out in last year’s qualifying final, the club is keen to continue to strive to contend, and Harwood says North will be considering all options available to improve the list.
“We’re considering all types to be honest. We think we’re in a relatively balanced position with our list,” he said.
“We’d obviously like to add some quality youth, and with list sizes at 30, we are always mindful of ensuring we have an adequate balance to our list.
“We’re looking to bring players who can hopefully play for the club for a long time, and as always we’re pretty open minded about what that could look like.
“It’s obviously slightly different to the men’s landscape because there are likely more players who are late starters to the game or have developed at different rates.
“We’ve got six selections so it’ll give our squad a little bit of a new look. It’s exciting.”
There’s no exact science to player recruitment; players who are taken late in the draft can be just as likely to succeed as those taken at the top.
Perhaps just as important as a player’s ability and game sense is their personality off the field, and the potential to mesh with new teammates both on and off the park crucial to building a strong culture.
Harwood says the club is leaving no stone unturned in its approach to player recruitment.
“Some players come through the pathway over a couple of years so you get pretty familiar with their football,” he said.
“There are other players who might really jump up in their draft year, or improve significantly through the state league, or wherever they might be playing.
“We watch a lot of their footy through the year and we really enjoy sitting down with them to find out more about them as people, and then there’s a real overlay of references, medical and psychological information that comes into consideration.
“We’re looking to bring in some players who complement our group from a talent, list needs, depth chart and off-field balance perspectives.
“We are looking forward to seeing how the draft night unfolds and welcoming some new Shinboners to the club to round out our squad for the 2021-22 AFLW Season.”