The AFL Women’s competition trade period got underway this week and works very differently to the men’s version.
For starters, all players traded have to agree to move clubs, especially if it involves a move interstate.
This rule makes it difficult for Victorian clubs in particular to pick up big-name interstate players as they’d have to convince their own players to move and live in another state.
Draft picks can also be passed around, but as seen with the first trade made, these seem to carry a lot less weight than they do in the men’s competition.
This may be because the vast majority of female talent was picked up in the inaugural draft, leaving only those turning 18, those not re-listed by their current clubs and anyone else joining the fray this season.
Carlton exchanged their first three draft selections (picks five, 13 and 21) to Collingwood for defender Nicola Stevens and a steak knife pick.
Stevens was the Magpies’ inaugural best and fairest winner and wanted to move to the Blues where she had an existing relationship with the coaching staff.
Collingwood now has picks four and five in the draft, which essentially means they have picks two and three of all of Victorian talent.
This gives them a big advantage, going back to the earlier concern that Victorian clubs would struggle to attract big-name interstate players, due to needing to work out a trade that satisfies all parties.
The Western Bulldogs get first pick of the Victorian talent, but the Pies will get the next two shots to nab any interstate players who want to return to Melbourne, but couldn’t secure a trade, or anyone else who was delisted.
Clubs are allowed to keep a maximum of 22 players from their initial squads, meaning a minimum of five players will have to be delisted (more in some cases).
Players who want to leave their clubs, but can’t secure a trade, can ask to be delisted and nominate for the draft in October.
They can do this because every AFLW player was signed to a one-year deal last season, meaning everyone is essentially out of contract.
For example, if Tayla Harris wishes to come to Victoria, but Brisbane can’t get a satisfactory deal done, she can nominate for the draft.
She can also tick a box saying she only wishes to be selected by Victorian teams – a rule that also existed in the inaugural draft.
This would give the Western Bulldogs first dibs on Harris, but if they pass, Collingwood would be next in line with their two picks.
However, if the Bulldogs want to take Harris, they’ll have to pay her less money than she was earning at Brisbane as they’re still only allowed two marquee players.
Another option would be to pay one of their current marquees Ellie Blackburn or Katie Brennan less money, but that seems unlikely.
If this happens and Harris ends up in the draft, Brisbane may be entitled to a compensation pick from the AFL similar to how free agency works in the men’s.
The AFL has also introduced a father/daughter rule with the qualification being only one game.
Expect a relatively quiet trade period with the delisting news to be far more intriguing heading into the October draft.