How bad is that?
That’s the question the AFL will ask about North Melbourne should the club apply for a priority pick at the end of the season.
If such a question seems too broad, that’s because it is; the AFL overhauled the system in 2012 after a more concrete formula led to concerns that clubs might bank for extra reward in the draft.
Watch every AFL blockbuster game this weekend live and ad-free on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try free for 14 days >
NEW FOX FOOTY PODCAST — Demons struggling on AND off the pitch
THE PROGRESS OF ROOS
The new system relies on both the executive and the league committee once a priority pick request is submitted.
North Melbourne won’t officially table a priority pick offer until (if at all) after the season; accommodating one earlier would be tantamount to canceling the rest of the year.
It’s a message the club simply cannot afford, even though those outside have already done so and even though at least fleeting conversations have taken place involving some of Arden Street’s top brass.
From the AFL’s perspective, weighing a request for priority selection from the Kangaroos is well and truly far down its list of agenda items.
If and when this request is filed, however, precedent will be king in the decision-making process.
In a statement to foxfooty.com.au on the possibility of requesting a priority pick, North Melbourne CEO Ben Amarfio said: “Like the salary cap and the draft, priority picks have been used as a tool of effective equalizer by the AFL, so I understand the interest for us to apply for them, especially given the history of picks awarded to several other clubs in similar or better positions than us currently.
“However, we remain positive and are not giving up the prospect of a few wins.
“I know the players and coaches are working hard and we’re looking forward to getting some players back and seeing the development of our talented youngsters in defence.”
PREVIOUS IS KING
The key line may well refer to “several other clubs in similar or better positions than us currently”, suggesting that the precedent is indeed there for North Melbourne.
Looking at the math, it’s not hard to see how a strong case could be presented.
Ahead of Round 13 and then a well-deserved goodbye, North Melbourne’s win-loss record over the past two-and-a-half seasons is eight wins, one draw and 41 losses.
The team percentage is 52.34, which since 1969 is the fourth worst after 12 rounds.
He also holds the lowest ‘points for’ average ever at this stage of the season, at 55.9.
Those are staggering numbers and they are worse placed than the Gold Coast Suns – the last team to be given priority picks.
At the time, in 2019, it was dubbed an “assist package” and came after the Suns won seven games in two seasons and went nine seasons without a Finals appearance (North’s last Finals appearance). Melbourne took place in 2016).
It consisted of the first pick of the 2019 draft (the Suns took Matt Rowell with that pick and Noah Anderson with the No. 2 pick), the first second-round pick, a first-round pick midway through the 2020 draft and the first pick in the second round of the 2021 draft.
It also included Academy roster and zoning benefits, capping an extraordinary suite of concessions.
North Melbourne, clearly, will not be granted such a package, given the Suns’ infancy and the huge investment the AFL has in the team to gain a foothold in a lucrative market that is not yet. fully capitalized.
BEST CASE FOR A CHOICE
A more comparable situation might be the Brisbane Lions in 2016, who received the No. 19 pick after seven wins in the previous two seasons and seven seasons without a final.
North Melbourne manager David Noble will be acutely aware of the benefits a priority pick can create, given he was appointed as Lions boss of football towards the end of that year.
The Lions traded the No. 19 pick less than two weeks after receiving him, using him with defender Pearce Hanley to secure the No. 22 pick from the Gold Coast Suns and a future first-round selection from Port Adelaide.
The No.22 pick was used on Cedric Cox, who managed just 13 AFL games, but this Port Adelaide pick (No.12 pick) was used to secure Adelaide’s Charlie Cameron.
Noble has publicly stated in 2021 that he will be open to Roos looking for a priority pick and it’s easy to see why, given how this has helped improve the Lions roster management strategy during his stay there.
Lions great Jonathan Brown, who retired two years before the team got the pick, sees the similarities between his former club and the Roos.
“They were in a bit of a conflict and obviously you have the other factor for the AFL, you’re in a border area and you’re trying to develop the game, so it’s important that your teams up there are competitive,” he said. he told foxfooty.com.au.
“North, however, is likely in a similar situation where he may not be relevant. I think it’s more than justified, a priority choice.
Some would say the team below them might have a case for a priority pick given the Eagles’ annus horribilis, but a team that made the final two years ago and won a flag ago four years simply cannot be considered for such a concession – not yet at least.
EVALUATE MADE LIST CALLS
Those who would dispute North Melbourne’s credentials for a priority pick would likely argue that this team voluntarily emptied its roster at the end of 2020, parting ways with an unprecedented 14 players before nine more players remained at the end of last season. .
Yet the club would say they could not have predicted a cancer diagnosis for their best player in Ben Cunnington, any more than they could have predicted a bout of glandular fever which sidelined their choice. #3 of 2020 to Will Phillips.
They have tried to solve the short-term problems via the acquisition of Hugh Greenwood and mid-season signing Kallan Dawson could well make his AFL debut in the near future as the team try to strengthen their defense in the absence of Robbie Tarrant. .
While the roster isn’t in great shape based on the form on display, it would take a bold pundit to claim the Roos dumped it – the team’s inability to land a proper star at the table. trading has become something of a running joke for football fans, but the mouth-watering numbers offered to players like Josh Kelly and Dustin Martin are proof that the club have at least tried to dig themselves out of the hole they have gradually fallen into.
It will be difficult to argue, however, that North Melbourne is blameless for the predicament it finds itself in.
Former North Melbourne and St Kilda star Nick Dal Santo was one of many veterans the club parted ways with in 2016 as they sought to transition their roster.
However, the decisions taken since then have not been satisfactory.
“Six years ago they made the right decision, I think, to get rid of me and all those older guys to start over,” Dal Santo told foxfooty.com.au, “but since then the proof before us is that they have made bad decisions since then.
“I thought it was the right decision and it was unfortunate to have been part of it, but since then there have been many bad calls for whatever reason.”
THE AFL’S GREAT ENIGMA
So the question for the AFL is whether these bad decisions amount to a “you’ve made your bed, now you’re lying in it” response, or a more encouraging response that would at least involve a concession.
“My general principle is that competition wants all teams to be competitive, it’s a much better game,” Brown said.
“I understand clubs make mistakes… but does that mean you’re doing too badly and letting them continue to be an underperforming team?
“We want all the teams to be competitive because we look at the top teams, it can be the difference between getting a higher place in the standings when some of the top teams play North Melbourne twice versus once.
“It changes the dynamic of the top eight.”
STATE LEAGUE CONCESSIONS
Another tool up the AFL’s sleeve is state league concessions, though these have had mixed results; take Carlton and Gold Coast in 2018.
Both teams at the end of this season did not get priority picks despite asking.
At this point, the Blues had won only seven or fewer games for five straight seasons, while the Suns had endured four straight seasons of six or fewer wins.
Instead, both clubs were given the option of pre-selecting state league players (two for the Blues and three for the Suns), while the Suns were able to increase the size of their rookie roster.
That access, however, could still be used at the trade table, with the Blues for example trading their ‘access’ to pre-registered State League player Shane McAdam to Adelaide in a complex three-way trade involving Sydney for Mitch. McGovern.
Along with his other state league concession, the Blues secured the No. 43 pick by ‘trade’ Nathan Kreuger to Geelong.
No decision has so far reaped significant rewards, but the Suns have proven that a diamond in the rough can mean the world of difference, with one of their state league picks being Sam Collins, who quickly became a cloth player at the club.
The other two selections – Chris Burgess and Josh Corbett – have not had the same impact, underlining why ‘pure’ picks would indeed be the preference of a beleaguered club like North Melbourne at the moment.
For Brown, a pick like No. 19 in this year’s draft would be one he’s comfortable accepting.
Perhaps fans of 17 other clubs may have to accept the same appeal.