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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

With the pool of available talent being stretched at draft time due to the introduction of the Gold Coast and Western Sydney teams, the AFL has eliminated the age restriction for rookie-listed players. At present, only one player over the age of 23 is allowed to be rookie-drafted. This decision came about partly due to the success of mature-aged rookies Michael Barlow (whose season ended prematurely due to a broken leg) at Fremantle and James Podsiadly at Geelong. This will give clubs greater flexibility in recruiting from the VFL, SANFL, WAFL and other secondary competition, as well as other codes and from overseas.

Other rules were also announced to assist clubs in recruiting and list management. All are designed to give clubs more flexibility in their salary caps and in trying out new players during the preseason. With the well-publicized defections of Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau from rugby to AFL, the League will allow easier transitions for recruits from overseas and other codes into footy. Payments to such players will be exempted from club salary caps until that player plays a senior game. An "alternative talent list" has been established for such recruits. Clubs would have to either place them on their senior lists or drop them. Along the same lines, clubs will be allowed to hold open a rookie spot on their lists until after the completion of the preseason games and to try out up to three players at a time during the preseason.

The case of Essendon's Adam Ramanauskas who was battling cancer several years ago has led the AFL to create an "inactive" list (as opposed to the long term injury list) for players in exceptional circumstances. At the time, Essendon had to delist Ramanauskas at the end of the year and then seek special permission from the AFL to redraft him as a rookie. Richmond also had to plead its case on behalf of Graham Polak, who was delisted at the end of 2009 and redrafted as a rookie. Polak was hit by a truck in 2008 and suffered brain damage. He fought his back for 2 games in 2009 but has yet to play a game this year.

Source:, AFL Season Guides 2009-2010

Article last changed on Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - 7:43 PM EDT

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