Richmond Tigers Training Session
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 07: Richmond senior coach, Damien Hardwick gives directions during a Richmond Tigers AFL training session at Punt Road Oval on April 07, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has called for the AFL to introduce a loan system, which would allow clubs to bring in players from rival clubs league mid-season.

The issue of clubs being left stranded by injury has been brought to light after Gold Coast ruckman Jarrod Witts was ruled out for the season with an ACL injury.

Witts now joins Zac Smith on the sidelines, leaving the Suns with no recognised ruck ahead of their clash with Carlton this weekend.

While they will have the opportunity to bring in a ruckman in the mid-season draft, they would need to do so from the lower leagues.

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However, Hardwick believes a loan system is a simple solution, which could allow the Suns to solve their issues immediately.

The three-time premiership coach even nominated first-year player Samson Ryan as a player who could go to the Suns and help both the Gold Coast and his own development.

“Anything that gives a young player an opportunity to play the game, I love,” Hardwick said on Wednesday.

“We’ve got a young kid by the name of Samson Ryan that we’d love to loan them. At the end of the day this kid – we’re really excited about what he’s going to bring – but we’ve got (Callum) Coleman-Jones, we’ve got Mabior Chol, we’ve got Samson.

“So he’s sitting there playing forward in VFL footy. Not that I’d like to give them Samson if he’s playing against us, but anything that gives a player the opportunity to play at AFL [level] we should look at, absolutely.”

The loan system is best used in soccer and is often utilised  by big powerhouse clubs at the top of the table as a way to let young talent go and develop.

However crucially those young players are often sent to a team a league or two below their parent-club or sent to teams not close to threatening the parent-club of the player on loan.

Players being loaned-out in the AFL system would be a higher chance of upsetting their parent-clubs aspirations but it is an issue that could be considered all part of the game.

The AFL offered clubs a three-month window to sign players form lower-leagues instead of a mid-season draft but that was rejected.