AFL gives Kangaroos draft golden ticket

North Melbourne could end up with four picks in the first round of this year’s AFL draft after being granted draft concessions, including a priority pick at the end of the first round for the next two years, following four seasons of failure.

Incoming AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon confirmed the league commission had ratified a plan for two years of help to the Kangaroos, who haven’t finished higher than 17th in the past four years.

North Melbourne already has two picks in the first round of this year’s draft, No.2 and 14, and could get another as compensation for the loss of free agent Ben McKay, who looks headed to Essendon.

The extra “assistance package” includes:

• One extra selection at the end of the AFL National Draft first round in 2023

• Two extra selections at the end of the AFL National Draft first round in 2024.

The Kangaroos will also get two additional rookie list spots for the 2024 season, having been given the same concession in 2023.

North Melbourne made an application for assistance having won just 12 of its past 84 games.

“North Melbourne has faced considerable challenges in recent years having not finished higher than 17th on the AFL ladder in the four seasons since 2020. The club presented to the AFL on how assistance can help the club potentially improve its on-field performance,” Dillon said.

“The AFL and football fans want a strong competition. Ensuring North Melbourne is competitive on the field and can build strength across its organisation, in the short term and in a sustainable way, is important for both the club and the broader competition.

“Under the leadership of President Sonja Hood, CEO Jennifer Watt and the club’s board, the AFL is confident that North Melbourne is heading in the right direction. After assessing the club’s position, the special assistance package can help the club deliver on its strategy for overall improvement in its football program and give greater confidence to staff, players and supporters.”

While the package is set for two years, the AFL Commission reserves the right to review special assistance picks in 2024 should the club materially increase its on-field performance in the 2024 season.

Watt thanked the AFL for considering the club’s submission and said the assistance should provide the club and coach Alastair Clarkson flexibility to draft the young talent needed to climb up the ladder.

“We’ve worked closely with the AFL over the past few weeks to build out an assistance package,” Watt said.

“We put a strong case forward given our recent results and the steps we’ve taken to improve on and off the field, and we especially thank Andrew Dillon, Laura Kane and Ned Guy for listening to us.

“We’re looking at every way to improve our list – whether that’s bringing in more high-end draft talent or players with proven AFL experience.

“These selections will give the club flexibility to achieve those aims at the trade and draft table this year and next.”

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