Clarko’s call for radical new ‘hybrid’ junior system

HAWTHORN coaching legend Alastair Clarkson has called for a ‘hybrid’ junior system that would restrict AFL clubs from recruiting more than one or two 18-year-old prospects per season.

As reported by on Friday, Clarkson will sit on a six-person AFL subcommittee that will also feature Brisbane coach Chris Fagan and Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge to determine the future of talent pathways in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Lions chief executive Greg Swann, the AFL’s legal counsel Andrew Dillon and the League’s head of talent Tristan Salter will join the trio of coaches to focus on the under-18 system, while the opinions of experienced recruiters and list managers will also be canvassed.

It comes amid the expectation that sweeping changes will be made to the AFL’s talent pathway and junior systems following the game’s shutdown due to the global COVID-19 outbreak.

Speaking on Saturday, Clarkson hinted at his preferred model for the future – revealing he would be in favour of most players entering a different system after schooling before eventually joining the AFL ranks.

“I grew up in a small little community that had Tim Watson starting to play League footy at 15 years of age,” Clarkson told Fox Footy.

“There’s part of me that says if kids are good enough to play at that age then they should be allowed to.

“But there’s also a part of me that says the great majority of players aren’t ready to cope with the rigours and the intense nature of AFL footy on a week-to-week basis until they’re 21 years of age.

“What I’d like to see is a system where you couldn’t just raid the under-18 competition for their talent. It’s a hybrid system where by and large most of the players that you recruit are 19 or 20 years of age.

“They’ve got to get their lives going somehow before they get an opportunity to be a senior AFL footballer.

“But I’d love to see access to one or two players at each club to recruit 18-year-old’s that they think could play League footy pretty much straightaway.”

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