Kane Cornes tees off at AFL rookie draft misuse, urges league to act

Kane Cornes has slammed the decline of the AFL Rookie Draft, after the majority of picks on Wednesday were devoted to re-drafting experienced players by their old clubs.

27 players were given an AFL lifeline in the secondary draft, which has previously seen a host of football icons including West Coast ruckman Dean Cox, Western Bulldogs premiership hero Matthew Boyd and St Kilda goalsneak Stephen Milne start their paths to greatness.

However, just 13 of those were newly listed players, with the majority of picks devoted to clubs re-signing experienced players to retain them without needing to give up a primary list position.

Prime examples include former GWS captain Phil Davis and Carlton veteran Ed Curnow, who are both well and truly over 30 years old and have played 192 and 204 games respectively.

It enabled the Giants and Blues, as well as a host of other clubs, to open up a spot list to snap up a highly-rated youngster or trade in talent from other clubs, rather than hope for diamonds in the rough. The Giants, for instance, added five players to their list in the national draft, with four taken inside the top 25 picks.

According to Cornes, the rookie draft is being badly misused by clubs, urging the AFL to change the rules to prevent the current situation from continuing.

“To have the rookie draft today and see only 13 new players get selected – we speak about it every year, but the rookie rules and the rookie draft is an absolute farce,” Cornes said on SEN’s Sportsday.

“It’s something the AFL needs to do something about. Phil Davis was selected as a rookie. He’s 32 and played 192 games.

“Ed Curnow is an AFL rookie. He’s 33, it’s his 16th season of it. Connor Blakely, Paul Seedsman is 30 and he’s a rookie. Kayne Turner. Daniel Howe. Nakia Cockatoo to Brisbane.

“It’s being exploited by clubs and the AFL has allowed it to happen.”

Phil Davis

Phil Davis of the Giants. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Cornes believes teams simply re-drafting veteran players rather than taking the punt on a new face deprives young hopefuls of a chance at their AFL dream.

He believes the solution is to reintroduce the ‘veterans’ list, which gave clubs the ability to pay a group of experienced players outside their salary cap before it was scrapped in 2016, and tighten rookie draft rules to ensure players over 23 can’t be selected.

“They scrapped the veterans list. That was a great rule. The veterans list was terrific,” Cornes said.

“I don’t think it’s a hard problem to solve. At the moment you can have between 36 and 38 primary listed players. You can have four to six Category A traditional rookies and you can have two Category B rookies.

“Just make it 44 – or bring it back to what it originally was where rookie players are between 18 and 23, they sit on your list and develop and they can only play if there’s a serious injury.

“That was a great rule and that’s where all those players came from and got their opportunities.

“But at the moment clubs are exploiting it and they’ll keep doing it until the AFL does something about it.”

Davis and Curnow were joined in being re-drafted by Isaiah Winder (West Coast), Andrew McPherson (Adelaide), Seamus Mitchell (Hawthorn), Dylan Williams (Port Adelaide), Ryan Lester (Brisbane), Cooper Murley (Collingwood), Zane Trew (West Coast), Paul Seedsman (Adelaide), Nakia Cockatoo (Brisbane), and Kayne Turner (North Melbourne).

Several other picks were devoted to clubs giving delisted rival players a second chance, with Connor Blakely (Fremantle) and Jake Stein (GWS) joining Gold Coast and Daniel Howe (Hawthorn) rejoining former coach Alastair Clarkson at North Melbourne.

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