It’s not often that the reigning premiership coach will be overly displeased with something heading into the new season but that’s exactly the position that Richmond’s Damien Hardwick finds himself in.
In January, now-retired forward Ben Griffiths took up an opportunity to pursue an American football career, leaving the Tigers with a 200cm-100kg sized hole in their list.
With the final list lodgement date falling on November 29 of 2017, Griffiths’ decision means the Tigers are unable to fill that void in 2018, with mid-season player movement something that Hardwick has long been advocating for.
“I still feel the AFL is behind the times with player movement and we’ve got to get our head around how that looks,” Hardwick told AFL.com.au.
“I find it farcical that we can only improve our list once a year.”
Hardwick, along with the rest of the AFL, will need to wait until at least 2019 for any potential changes to the rule with football operations manager Steve Hocking ruling out any changes for 2018, with the Richmond coach saying it not only hinders clubs but also players who are exceeding at the state level.
“I do not understand what we have to do to give a guy that’s playing fantastic footy in the VFL, or wherever it may be, an opportunity through the year if we have significant injuries.
“We’ve just lost Ben Griffiths, who’s chosen to pursue a different career, and we’ve got a list spot there that will remain unfilled.
“Every kid who is kicking a ball around this day and age wants to play AFL footy and we’ve got a spot available that will sit for the whole year. That’s 12 months no one gets an opportunity and it’s disappointing for mine.”
Hardwick has long been an advocate for greater player movement and says while free agency has helped fast track that to a certain extent, more power needs to be given back to the clubs.
“I’m a big advocate for free agency and I think after a certain period at a club players should have the ability to earn a bigger contract somewhere else,” the coach said.
“But having said that, the players have all the power at the moment, and we probably should get something back for that.”
Last year, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan told afl.com.au’s Road to the Draft podcast that he was a fan of the idea of mid-season trades.
“I think there needs to be more player movement. If you actually want to get clubs that are well managed climbing quicker, then freer player movement helps that”.