AFL Tasmania, North Melbourne sign 2018 VFL agreement

HOPEFUL: Launceston draft prospect Jake Hinds could get a taste for VFL life with North Melbourne next year after a deal was struck with AFL Tasmania.
HOPEFUL: Launceston draft prospect Jake Hinds could get a taste for VFL life with North Melbourne next year after a deal was struck with AFL Tasmania.

Tasmanian footballers on the cusp of greater things will be eligible for selection in North Melbourne’s VFL and VFLW sides next season.

The Kangaroos and AFL Taasmania spent most of this year brokering a deal to provide greater opportunities and exposure for the state’s top-end talent without them needing to vacate the TSL competition.

North Melbourne has ended its VFL affiliation with Werribee and will enter a standalone team in 2018 under David Loader’s leadership, while women will get their chance via the Melbourne University Women’s Football Club.

North VFL manager Andrew Carson said the agreement was mutually beneficial to all parties.

“These players will have the opportunity to come and train and play with us and be exposed to the AFL standards and requirements we set for our VFL players,” Carson said.

“There is an added bonus for these players who will now have exposure across two State League competitions.

“The VFL produced another five players through the national and rookie Drafts this year, and we hope to help create more draft prospects out of Tasmania.

“We hope the players will be able to take their learnings and experiences back to their TSL clubs and help with the development of club programs.”

Launceston coach Sam Lonergan said the agreement would likely benefit players such as Blue Jake Hinds, who missed out on being drafted last month.

Tigers’ Hugh Dixon was Tasmania’s sole draftee (Fremantle) this year, following on from none in 2016. “It’s an advancement in terms of what they’ve got, which is a positive,” Lonergan said.

“Any greater exposure that our state players can get is great… It will be interesting to see how it operates in the first 12 months and to see if it is actually beneficial.

“The VFL is a pretty hot competition so whether you can actually send players over that haven’t had any real team chemistry or experience to put their best foot forward is questionable.

“They might know a bit of background info but they won’t have the bond a coach needs with his group, what roles they can perform if the first one isn’t working right – that may be an issue.”

TSL manager Carl Saunder said he hopes the partnership can expand year-on-year as a legitimate talent pathway for Tasmanian players on AFL club radars.

“For our TSLW players, it is a fantastic opportunity to impress in the VFLW with the Tassie Roos just around the corner,” Saunder said.

“It’ll be via mutual agreement between the Kangaroos and TSL clubs about the type of player and availability on a week-by-week basis.” 

Saunder said initially the agreement was about providing an opportunity to players, rather than players being on North’s VFL or VFLW lists full-time.

He also said that it was a retention opportunity for TSL clubs with several players leaving for other state competitions in the past few years, including Clarence and former Adelaide-listed utility Sam Siggins, 23, who signed on with Geelong’s VFL team for 2018 on Thursday.