A HIGH number of players returning to their home clubs during the off-season is a sign the player points system is working well, AFL Wimmera-Mallee commissioner Bruce Petering says.
AFL Victoria implemented the system prior to the 2016 season in an effort to level competition within leagues across the state.
“I think the clubs are really getting their head around it now,” Petering said.
“They have had two years to grasp the concept and have become smarter in the way they recruit.
“They will look at the player and their points value to consider the overall value a player will be at their club.
“It means they might not go after the same sort of players they did in the past and it’s less of a scatter-gun approach.”
Under the system, teams are allocated points based on a variety of factors that they can then “spend” on their players.
Petering said home-grown players were always likely to be in high demand under the system.
“If a player has played 40 games of junior football at their club, they are considered a home player for rest of their life and they are a one-point player at that club,” he said.
“In the scheme of things, if you have more one-point players, you are obviously better off.
“The basic concept of the policy is to try to get clubs to bring youth through their clubs and retain them – or if they go away, they can come back.”
A number of Horsham District and Wimmera league clubs have noticeably targeted former juniors to strengthen their clubs in 2018.
It is a trend that is widespread across Victoria.
“Some of the leagues have had points systems for a long time and it’s something they noticed straight away and continue to notice to this day,” Petering said.
“It places a higher premium on the players that do come through your juniors.”
The two Stawell-based teams have recruited hard this off-season, with both Swifts and the Warriors picking up former players.
2014 premiership players Ben Martin and Jakob Davis return to the Baggies in the Horsham District league, while Luke Hendy returns to the Warriors after two seasons away from the club.
Each club’s points cap can be adjusted by its league commission depending on factors such as population and success.
Petering said the allocation of points was reassessed every year.
“It means that clubs like Nhill and Dimboola have considerably higher points than the teams in Horsham or Ararat,” Petering said.
“Without taking those things into consideration it just wouldn’t work and clubs can go up or down depending on a lot of different variables.”