Matthew Kennedy (left) and Jacob Hopper of the Giants.
Matthew Kennedy (left) and Jacob Hopper of the Giants. JULIAN SMITH

Giants slam AFL over academy rule changes

GWS chairman Tony Shepherd has slammed the AFL's move to cut the Albury and Murray River area from its academy zone and further restrict the number of players it can access from its remaining area in the draft.

It is the fourth rule change in the six years of the academies' existence. Each of the alterations has watered down the return GWS gets on its multi-million-dollar investment.

"We must examine the new rules very closely and decide how we proceed with the academies," Shepherd said.

"We remain committed to them."

Shepherd also believes the Giants are being punished for doing too good a job in producing players from their academy zone.

The output has certainly improved dramatically in recent years. Prior to the introduction of the GWS academy in 2011, Justin Koschitzke was the only player from its academy zone to be drafted in the top 20 players in the past 20 years.

In the past two years alone six top 20 players have come from their area: Jacob Hopper, Matt Kennedy, Harry Himmelberg, Will Setterfield, Harry Perryman and Isaac Cumming.

"It's defeating the purpose of why the academies have been set up," Shepherd said.

"There have been bugger all players who have come out of the Albury and Murray area in the last 20 years.

"We have suddenly started working the area and putting some real intellectual power, effort and money into it and all of a sudden we start producing talent and the Melbourne teams want to cash in on it."

As well as losing a significant slice of their zone, the Giants will be restricted to bidding on just one top 20 player should they finish in the top four this year and two if they finish between fifth and eighth.

Should they finish outside the top eight there will be no limit to the number of academy players they can draft.

Adding to Shepherd's frustration is the lack of positive feedback they are getting from city hall for the job they are doing cultivating talent from an area that has been almost barren of AFL talent for more than two decades.

"Our academy coach Jason Saddington and his team have done an outstanding job," Shepherd said.

"They have established the academies and recruiting and developing local talent not just for the draft but the competition in general. He should be congratulated for it but the AFL never does.

"The academy strategy was created by the AFL it wasn't invented by the Giants. Our big problem is we executed our job too well. Now we are being punished for doing well. The goal is mediocrity."

News Corp Australia


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