Call for drafting shake-up
South Fremantle's Ben Saunders sprints during yesterday's WA draft combine at Revolution Sports. Pic: Lincoln Baker/WA News

West Coast, Fremantle and the AFL will tonight call for a dramatic overhaul of the WA development system as fears mount that the 2012 national draft will be one of the State's leanest.

West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett, Fremantle recruiters Neil Ross and Adam Jones, AFL talent staff Kevin Sheehan and Michael Ablett, former West Coast chairman of selectors Tim Gepp, WAFL football director Grant Dorrington, football manager Cameron Knapton, State academy manager Raff Guadagnino and several commissioners will discuss how to reverse the slide.

Once ranked as the best development system in the country, recruiters now say that WA has fallen a long way behind other States.

The WAFL Talent Academy's budget has been slashed in the past 18 months, highly-respected pair Craig Starcevich and Rob Wiley were not replaced after moving interstate, and WA's academy is one of the few talent programs not to have at least a part-time strength and conditioning co-ordinator.

The Talent Academy and WAFL competition were funded from the same budget this year, but the AFL's preferred pathway calls for academies to be ranked higher than State leagues.

Earlier in the year, WA was tipped to have up to four players drafted in the top 20, but there is now a chance that just one will be chosen among that group. If that occurs, it will be the second year in a row that WA has had only one in the top 20. Stephen Coniglio joined GWS at pick No.2 last year.

WA had eight youngsters chosen in the AFL's level-one academy in 2011, but four were among the 10 who weren't promoted to level two for next season.

Last year, Perth's Chris Yarran was one of only three players not promoted to the next level.

Yarran won the medal for the best player at the under-16 national titles in 2010 but played just one of the five games for this year's under 18s.

While Jaeger O'Meara, Jesse Hogan and Jack Martin's talents have shone so much that they were chosen 12 months early as part of the elite mini-draft, it hasn't eased concerns about preparing players for their traditional draft year.

"We want to see that we've got the best possible programs for the youth footballers in WA in place," Sheehan said.

"We've brought in the North West side at under-16 level but what is the progression from there for the boys in that area? We'll talk specifically about the best possible program for the most talented boys.

"There's always the need to make sure the best are challenged and have the best possible coaching and support structures around them before they get to an AFL club.

"We'll go over the amount of resources there are there now."

WA players selected in the State academy are monitored by their clubs after the under-18 titles finish. The AFL teams are expected to call for those players to remain in an elite environment to prepare for the draft.

The Eagles and Dockers are tipped to provide funding or help find a sponsor for the academy, and current or former players are likely to help develop the youngsters.

Aaron Sandilands and Adam Selwood were part of WA's victorious under-16s team's coaching panel this year. Gepp, who was a selector, will discuss the significance of their involvement.

Having Fremantle and West Coast involved in developing the next batch of draftees has concerned some interstate clubs, who are worried the WA clubs will receive exclusive information about players.

The West Australian

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