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Sharks riled as Gold Coast make play for Swallow
Sharks riled as Gold Coast make play for Swallow

The WA Football Commission has demanded an explanation from the AFL over an attempt by the league's Gold Coast franchise to gain early access to one of the State's brightest young talents.

_The West Australian _understands the fledgling AFL club, which will have six top-10 picks in next year's national draft, recently asked East Fremantle's David Swallow to spend time with them in 2010.

The under-18s All-Australian turns 17 this November, with his age making him ineligible to be drafted by an AFL club until the end of next year.

Swallow turned down the Gold Coast offer but the approach has still angered East Fremantle officials banking on him playing for them next year.

The club has raised concerns over the approach with the WAFC, which sent a letter last week to AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou calling for the situation to be clarified.

Neither the commission nor East Fremantle knew of the approach until his family informed the WAFL club.

WAFC chief executive Wayne Bradshaw said the commission wanted to know what extra concessions had been granted to Gold Coast.

"An approach to a young player of that age group in our view is not appropriate," he said. "We're in favour of an increased draft age and this works against that belief."

Swallow played four league matches for the Sharks this year and became the youngest player to ever win the Larke Medal when named as best player at this year's under-18 national championships.

East Fremantle president John McManus said he believed Swallow was the only potential draftee from WA who had been approached by the AFL's newest franchise but confirmed the young talent would play for the Sharks in 2010.

He said the club believed Swallow was better off staying in WA next year and improving his skills under the tutelage of East Fremantle coach and Brownlow winner Shane Woewodin.

"It may have been that he would have had to go down and play in the VFL, so you've got him away from home, a 16-year-old boy who's doing his TEE that year," McManus said.

"He's in a club that actually hasn't rolled out a senior team and has a coaching program that's really in its embryonic stage, whereas we're very confident in the pathway at East Fremantle Football Club."

Gold Coast recruiting manager Scott Clayton said no formal offer involving a move east had been put to Swallow at this stage.

"We're very respectful of where he's at and his family and his footy commitments but we're also mindful of what's best for him and for us," Clayton said.

"All we've said is at an appropriate time come and have a look around and see where it might take us.

"That offer's there, about having a look at the Gold Coast and our facilities and how we're going to structure up our team."

The approach has raised speculation that several other young WA stars could soon be targeted by the Gold Coast, including West Perth forward Jack Darling.

Falcons coach Bill Monaghan has spoken to the club's emerging star about any potential approach.

"I briefly just said to Jack that if there was any contact made by Gold Coast we should sit down with him and his parents and discuss the pros and cons," Monaghan said.

The West Australian

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