Despite the fact that all 16 clubs agreed to the draft concessions given to the Gold Coast Suns and GWS, it would be fair to suggest that they overestimated the calibre of talent that both clubs – particularly GWS – would stockpile.
Both teams now have a war chest of talent that has left the 16 other clubs kicking themselves for signing off on such an agreement.
For the most part, Gold Coast appears to have developed an environment where very few of their high-end draft picks are wanting to leave.
At one stage, there were murmurs that highly talented midfielder Harley Bennell was homesick and wanted to move back to WA. However, after a bit of soul searching – and some guidance from Karmichael Hunt – he appears to have fallen in love with the club and, as a result, is playing some brilliant football.
The same can’t be said for GWS.
Some have argued that it was a mistake by the AFL to try and muscle their way in on Western Sydney as it is very much a stronghold for rugby and soccer. However, what the AFL wants the AFL gets, and they were never going to be told otherwise.
Slowly but surely, GWS are developing a side that boasts some incredible talent and, like most of the expansion sides that have entered the AFL, it will take time for them to get to a point where they are as consistently competitive as their Queensland counterparts.
While the club was never expected to hold onto all of their talent, the rumblings coming out of Homebush are that there is going to be an exodus of players: some of whom are considered the very cream of the GWS crop.
There is a real chance that prized midfielders Dylan Shiel and Jono O’Rourke as well as highly rated key position players Tom Boyd, Jon Patton, Kristian Jaksch, and Jeremy Cameron may find themselves at other clubs within the next two years.
Already, Richmond and Carlton are circling Shiel, who is almost certain to return to Melbourne at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Collingwood appears to be in the box seat ahead of North Melbourne for the services of gun midfielder and former number two draft selection O’Rourke.
The Bulldogs threw everything they had at Patton during last year’s trade period and they will go after him again, along with key defender Jaksch, who is high on their priority list. What they are prepared to give up for either of these two isn’t clear: however, their first round draft pick would have to be a starting point in negotiations.
Then there is the case of two gun key forwards: Tom Boyd and Jeremy Cameron.
While there are some doubts over the future of Patton, Boyd and Cameron at GWS, it would be surprising if all three were traded within the next two years. In fact, for the sake of their future, they must keep at least two of them.
Patton has already been linked to the Bulldogs and Cameron is the one that some clubs have already enquired about: however, Boyd is the most interesting one. GWS made it publicly known that they were prepared to trade the number one draft pick last season.
Both Carlton and St Kilda are believed to have offered the Giants several deals, but obviously none were satisfactory. Boyd only signed a standard two year contract to begin with, in comparison to other GWS players who signed on for longer contracts when they were drafted.
Naturally, Boyd already has the likes of Carlton, St Kilda, Bulldogs, Essendon and Geelong throwing contracts in front of him, in the hope that they can bring him back to Melbourne.
Add these players to Taylor Adams, Dom Tyson, Jack Hombsch, Shaun Edwards, Kurt Aylett, and Sam Darley – all of whom have been traded over the past few seasons – and the war chest of talent starts to diminish somewhat.
It would be staggering if every one of these players left the club. However, opposition clubs – particularly the Melbourne based clubs – are making moves to acquire some of these players in a bid to make amends for their mistakes all those years ago.