AFL Tasmania officials have begun to analyse the reasons behind its state players being overlooked at the AFL draft in Tasmania Devils' return year.
As Mitch O'Neill and Matt McGuinness settle into West Coast and North Melbourne, the fact that the only two Tasmanians that came under consideration were via the rookie draft raised eyebrows.
O'Neill was predicted to be a lock for the second or third round - from selections 23 to 54 - but his name was only called out at No.21 the next morning, the overall 86th pick from both drafts.
Tasmania Devils manager Craig Notman felt O'Neill was stiff to slip so far back in clubs' calculations.
"I think he deserved the opportunity to be at an AFL club," Notman said.
"All reports that we had was it was going to fall within the [AFL] draft itself.
"One of the things we had was a number of conversations [on Thursday night] and the overall sort of feeling was that he was going then.
"The difficult part was trying to work out reasons why it didn't, but we just had to wait a bit longer [on Friday]."
This came after the fanfare that the return of the Devils' program into the rebranded NAB League under-18s competition was going to prove a windfall for Tasmanians.
But Notman felt a lot was out of the state's control with recent changes to draft rules.
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"The way draft picks shuffled over the course of the night, players being available at different times, it's hard to put your finger on it," he said.
"It's one of those that we really try to get a handle on and we'll do a lot of research still to get a real handle.
"It's just one of the vagaries of the draft that you can't take it for granted, you just have to wait for your name to be called out and make the most of the opportunities."
Notman doubled down on any suggestion Hobart-based O'Neill and McGuinness will be given more latitude to adjust than had they been drafted onto the senior list.
"If you look at the history of the draft, it makes the kids more determined to have a real crack at it," he said.
"I don't see missing out on draft night as a bad thing."
O'Neill may have been better to land at the right club as a rookie than at any club.
West Coast have a record of turning rookies into stars that have included Brownlow Medallist Matt Priddis, Dean Cox, Jeremy McGovern and Quinten Lynch.
"I think the history suggests that if you go back over the draft history, there is a number of good players that have gone through the rookie system," Notman said.
"They're household names in the AFL since and it's really pleasing the boys can look in terms of a bit of a guide in their football journey."
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