Opinions of the feasibility or fairness may be varied, but the AFL seems to be moving inexorably in the direction of a mid-season exchange period.
AFL Chief Executive Gill McLachlan is one of those who seem to think it is a good idea. He cited the example of the Sydney Swans, who lost two of their ruckmen, Kurt Tippett to unexpected, sudden retirement and Sam Naismith to a ruptured ACL.
McLachlan was quoted as saying, “I have the potential to potentially overreach to get to where I think we need to go, but it just doesn’t make any sense to me that we have one trade period for two weeks,” McLachlan told the Fox Footy launch.
That is a lot of potential.
“Then 10 days after that, (Carlton’s) Sam Docherty can do his knee or Naismith (on Wednesday). And certainly with Tippett and suddenly Naismith out, Sydney looks short on ruckmen,” McLachlan said.
Others might say that it is hard to feel much sympathy for the Swans and that the Swans should make up for the missing with players they already have in the fold.
The AFL is looking to increase the window for drafts and trades during the off-season and mulling the proposition of permitting mid-season recruiting.
Coach Damien Hardwick of the 2017 premiership winning Richmond Tigers is behind the proposal, or at least he will be until he sees his side lose due to more liberal rules pertaining to trades and recruiting.
McLachlan supports the notion in order to speed up rebuilds, but he acknowledges that changing policy of this magnitude is difficult and can unforeseen consequences.
Many professional sports leagues, the NBA, NFL and MLB serving as prime examples, are permitted to enhance their rosters to add veterans as the season progresses towards the playoffs and that is exactly the sort of thing many in the AFL want to see enabled.