The Suns are keen to keep their young guns for longer. Picture: AAP
The Suns are keen to keep their young guns for longer. Picture: AAP

Radical draft plan to help clubs keep top talent

THE Gold Coast Suns and Brisbane Lions have urged the AFL to introduce new draft rules to help them lock away their top picks for longer. But will the officials listen?

Commission chairman Richard Goyder said the clubs had pitched the plan to help with player retention.

"Both the Queensland clubs have actually said to us, can we have longer than a two-year contract with our draftees," Goyder said.

Footy's most senior official said he also expected Suns chairman Tony Cochrane to again seek priority access to the best state league players before this year's draft to help plug the Gold Coast player drain.

"So we will look at all those things because it's a ­really important point," Goyder said.

The Lions said on Monday they had not discussed the length-of-contract issue with the AFL for several years, but the Suns confirmed that they were keen on the ­concept.

"The club has discussed the possibilities of longer-term deals for high-end draftees with the AFL previously and are of the belief it is a discussion well worth having," a Gold Coast spokesman said.

Goyder did not stipulate whether proposed changes being considered would apply to all 18 clubs or just the Queensland teams.

Tom Lynch is among the stars to have exited the Suns. Picture: AAP Images
Tom Lynch is among the stars to have exited the Suns. Picture: AAP Images

A rival club president said: "We probably need to run a competition, not a marketing plan."

"Do we give Melbourne the same opportunity? And Essendon, who haven't won a final for 15 years?"


The AFL Players' Association said any changes to existing draft rules would require the union's agreement.

"The AFL has not provided the AFLPA with a proposal relating to this issue, but we are open to discussing it as part of a broader conversation about player movement," union legal executive James Gallagher said.

The 17th-placed Suns have failed to play finals since joining the league in 2011.

"I think the competition has to ask the question as to whether it is too difficult to get right off the very bottom one, two or three spots," Suns chief executive Mark Evans said.

"Because if that takes seven years … with today's level of player movement, my concern is, by the time you start getting to go, other players have left, and therefore you hang in the same reaches of the ladder.

"The industry has to debate that. Without just over-gifting things to teams at the bottom of the ladder, how do we set up our total structure?

"Is it TPP, is it draft, is it access to state-league players … is it about restricting free agency to the top couple of clubs?"

Goyder said he felt "pretty good" about the future of the Suns.

"Tony Cochrane is an amazing chairman, Mark Evans is a first-class CEO and I think Stuart Dew is going to be a very good coach," he said.

"The Queensland Government is working much more closely with them in terms of the whole stadium up there and there's 900,000 people on the Gold Coast now, so it's a big centre in its own right."