Former AFL manager Rodney Eade believes a small reduction in roster size will pave the way for a Tasmanian side and address any concerns over a lack of talent.
Eade, one of Tasmania’s finest footballing products, is confident an AFL club could thrive in his home country despite constant obstacles and theories as to why it wouldn’t work.
There are fears the addition of a 19th team could water down the standard too much, but the former Sydney, Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast coach said that was just another excuse.
“I thought like, ‘Oh, this is going to wear down the players. We don’t have strong enough competition now to have another 40 players,'” Eade said. The Believers: Tasmania’s AFL trip podcast.
“OK, well, what about the size of each (AFL club) roster? I think we can cut it down by two – there are 36 players. of players?It’s the same number of players.
“I don’t know what the size is at the moment. Is it 40 or 44? Say it’s 40 and four rookies. Make it 38 and four rookies.
The maximum AFL club roster size is 44, including up to two Category B recruits, since changes were made at the end of 2020.
The mix goes from 36 to 38 senior players, then between four and six Grade A rookies, while Grade B rookies can take a roster up to 44.
There were talks at league headquarters before then about even deeper cuts, particularly once the Covid-19 pandemic hit, but that never happened.
Eade said Melbourne’s rise from second-to-last in 2019 to win an anti-drought flag last year showed teams can rebuild quickly through the draft.
“The way I would go if I was the AFL – and the AFLPA would never go for that – I would reduce the rosters even further and have no reservations,” he said. .
“They would go back to a feeder team, so Collingwood would line up with Coburg or Richmond would line up that way – and create a VFL team, so Tassie would have his own state league.
“So you would therefore have 35 players, so if you want to have a 20th license (in addition to the inclusion of Tasmania), OK, there are still enough players for everyone.
“You’ve got 22, you’ve got injuries, you’ve got five or six that go to your VFL feeder team or us, if it’s Tassie, go to clubs statewide or whatever. . I think there are too many players on the list.
“I think we can reduce that, reduce costs and make it a really elite competition.”