Tasmania’s young footballers need more exposure on the national stage, says state academy coach Adam Sanders after the poor showing at the national draft last Friday.
No players from Tasmania were selected after 14 had been taken in the four years prior. According to Sanders “things need to change”.
“We need to look at what we need to change to keep things relevant and we need to get more high level games for the boys, so they can understand the level they need to be at,’’ he told Fairfax Media.
“It is not a level playing field at the moment.
“The exposure to AFL environments that the boys in the northern (New South Wales and Queensland) academies, that is a great advantage.
“But more high level games, that is really important. You can train as much as you want, but the assessment comes in the games, as that is where they are judged by recruiters.
“That is where most of their learning will come from as far as being able to assess what they are doing well and what they are not doing well.
“Our schedule was very ordinary for the boys really. They (the Mariners) had five games to impress, where a boy in the TAC Cup can get 15 or 16 games.
“But we are fighting hard to make sure our boys get enough games in the future to show everything that they have got.
“At the moment if our kids have one or two bad games, they can have big cross put through their name quite quickly.
“Just look at Clayton Oliver last year in the TAC Cup, where he didn’t make the Vic Country side, but had a great back-half of the year and won the Morrish Medal and got drafted at four (to Melbourne).
“I’m not sure if he was a Tassie kid, he would have got the same chance.
“Hopefully through North Melbourne, both through the Next Gen Academy and beyond, there can be that exposure to the elite environment.’’
The doom and gloom may not be long-term though with Sanders saying this year’s under 16 group was the ‘’best he had ever coached”.
Tarryn Thomas and Chayce Jones from North Launceston and Launceston are two who could be drafted in 2018.
Former Burnie midfielder Robbie Fox was picked up by Sydney in the rookie draft.
Burnie’s Brady Grey (Fremantle) and North Hobart’s Henry Schade (Collingwood) were given second chances.