Gone are the days of players having limited options when it comes to state league recruitment. The VFL was the benchmark when it came to finding AFL worthy talent, but now the SANFL is fast-becoming the best state competition in the country.
The SANFL's success was highlighted by four 2021 Mid-Season Draft picks coming from the Adelaide-based league. The development programs among the SANFL teams are clearly working very well and giving the AFL plenty of talent to choose from.
Now however, interstate teams across the country are taking notice of the many talented players in the region.
An example of the amazing talent in the SANFL is the Power's young stars, headlined by Conner Rozee.
Rozee is a local product from the North Adelaide Roosters. He seems to be on the trajectory of stardom and has learnt his immense skills from the SANFL program.
The 21-year-old developed in the SANFL as a teenager and played against many ex-AFL players, which tested his young body.
But the competitive nation of football in South Australia has helped shaped players like Rozee into athletes that can compete with the best in the AFL.
As of late, the SANFL has been able to produce the most amount of mature-age AFL recruits. They have been able to turn rejected potential draftees into success stories.
Highmore was a good junior player in the Canberra region but did not attract AFL suitors. He then moved to SA at 22-years of age to try and get drafted. It was a masterstroke as one season with South Adelaide was enough to be picked up in the 2020 draft with pick 45.
The SANFL has also dominated the higher end of National Drafts over the past several seasons, with the likes of Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine, Rozee, Dylan Stephens and Riley Thilthorpe all being taken within the top five selections of their respective drafts.
Add in the recruitment of Magpies speedster John Noble (2019 Mid-Season Draft), Blues backman Luke Parks (2020 Rookie Draft), Bombers livewire Will Snelling (2019 Mid-Season Draft) and Saints forward Cooper Sharman (2021 Mid-Season Draft) as just some of the recruits to come from the SANFL outside of the National Draft in recent years.
These success stories have caused a surge in mature-age prospects choosing the SANFL over other state leagues around the country.
This rise shows that players are having a positive overall experience in South Australia. SANFL clubs clearly have great support systems in place for incoming recruited players.
Job pathways and University support allows for the league to be more attractive to interstate footballers. The whole experience of SA football is becoming far more appealing for budding young talent than other options.
The SANFL is producing more and more players for AFL clubs to benefit from. This means that clubs will now look at South Australian football as a primary recruiting catchment and thus will allow SA players to be exposed to scouts.
The rise of the SANFL is great for the wider game and is topping the AFL up with exciting players for the footy fanbase to enjoy.