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State leagues vital for AFL: GWS draftees

Carlton have already ended their alignment with VFL affiliates Northern Blues, with the sport’s financial woes certain to have further knock-on effects for the VFL, SANFL, WAFL and NEAFL plus their clubs.

Coupled with a likely reduction in list sizes at AFL level, there are concerns that players overlooked in future drafts will not have a chance to follow in the footsteps of Michael Barlow, James Podsiadly and other mature-age success stories.

“The state leagues are so important to footy in general,” Riccardi said.

“They’re just a much-needed part of the whole structure.

“You need somewhere for AFL-listed guys to come down and show what they can do to get back in the ones, or for guys who need longer to develop.

“Then you’ve got guys like me last year, coming out of the TAC Cup (under-18 competition) and probably not yet ready (for the AFL).

“It’d be very hard to see how everything works without them in place … if they were to come down, it’d be devastating.”

The AFL is yet to nominate a date for round two of its season but believed to be tracking towards a June resumption, while all state leagues remain shut down until at least May 31.

There has been speculation regarding the possible launch of a national league for AFL clubs’ reserves, but West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett has made it clear it would be too expensive for the Eagles to take part.

“I don’t really know what will happen if those state leagues don’t get up and running … it’d just be all 18-year-olds in the draft I guess,” Hutchesson said.

“Hopefully they all come back sooner rather than later.

“They are a massive part of the AFL, a pathway to the AFL.”

AAP

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