With the AFL understood to be considering a pool of top-up players for the 2022 season, players across state leagues will be on high alert in the hope of gaining a chance to prove their worth in the national competition.
Across the VFL, SANFL and WAFL, there are a bevy of players worthy of a chance in the AFL, and a part-time chance this year could be their best chance of securing an AFL list spot in the future.
Clubs could see the reliance on the pool of designated players as a dress rehearsal ahead of the Mid-Season Rookie Draft in June, an opportunity that could spark a new path for a worthy state league player.
Casting our eye across Australia's top leagues, we identify those who could be selected for a top-up pool, keeping in mind ex-AFL talent will likely be preferred by the league.
Within the new-look eastern seaboard VFL competition, a number of familiar faces have made strong cases for returns to the AFL since departing the top flight.
Former Bulldogs forward Fergus Greene had a stunning season with Box Hill in 2021, booting 30 goals from his nine appearances for the season.
Carlton reserves pair James Parsons and Ben Crocker were named in the VFL Team of the Year following strong stints at Ikon Park last year, with the former having since ventured to Box Hill and begun training with Hawthorn.
Another standout from the VFL across the past 12 months comes in the form of Aspley forward and former Brisbane Lions Academy player Matt Hammelmann, who averaged 4.2 goals per game from 10 appearances last year to claim the league's goalkicking award.
The VFL has also welcomed a plethora of recently delisted players from the AFL, with former Hawks duo Oliver Hanrahan (Werribee) and James Cousins (Williamstown), premiership Tiger Jacob Townsend (Southport) and ex-Dockers defender Taylin Duman (Frankston) all joining the league for 2022.
Further lists of ex-AFL players from the off-season have scattered across other state leagues, with the SANFL having one of the strongest recruiting windows for discarded top talent.
Former Port Adelaide duo Hamish Hartlett and Jarrod Lienert have joined West Adelaide and Sturt for 2022, while South Adelaide have added former Tiger Ryan Garthwaite, ex-Saint Oscar Clavarino, delisted Cat Oscar Browless, ex-Blue Sam Ramsay and former Hawk Keegan Brooksby to their squad.
The SANFL has also called home to some of the country's best talent that are yet to break the AFL barrier, with Woodville-West Torrens premiership heroes Jack Hayes and James Tsitas having both claimed silverware last year.
Like their South Australian counterparts, the WAFL also boasts a number of players worthy of a call up to the AFL, with Claremont duo Jye Bolton and Bailey Rogers both showing plenty of prowess with the Tigers across the course of the past few seasons.
A number of AFL hopefuls are already in line for potential list spots for 2022 via the Pre-Season Supplemental Selection Period, with as many as eight clubs currently utilising train-on players this summer.
Former Demons defender Marty Hore is plying his trade at Arden Street in hope of securing a career lifeline with the Kangaroos, while Paddy McCartin (Sydney), Nathan Freeman (Gold Coast), Tom Joyce (West Coast) and Luke Strnadica (West Coast) are also training for a second chance in the AFL.
The aforementioned Tsitas and Hayes are currently training with Gold Coast and St Kilda respectively, with the Woodville-West Torrens among the crop of Eagles - including Daniel Menzel and Riley Knight - AFL clubs could consider.
Box Hill's Vincent Adduci is another player in consideration for an AFL list spot, having joined Hawthorn as a train-on player.
Should clubs be able to look more in-house for top-up players, those that have moved into coaching could also be handed opportunities should the concept be given the green light by the AFL.
Recently retired goalsneak Eddie Betts has also moved into a development coaching gig, joining Geelong's new-look football department.