THREE south-west footballers could be thrown AFL lifelines this morning.
North Ballarat Rebels teenager Louis Herbert, Port Melbourne midfielder Sam Dwyer and former Collingwood player Luke Rounds are the region’s best hopes in the AFL pre-season and rookie drafts.
Smaller rookie lists could make it difficult for new players to find AFL homes today.
As little as 20 untried players could be drafted, with rookie lists shrinking from six players to four depending on the size of the club’s primary list.
Clubs can have a maximum 44 players on their 2013 lists.
Many clubs have committed to re-drafting players they delisted after the 2012 season.
Herbert, 18, is considered one of North Ballarat Rebels’ best rookie chances.
The South Warrnambool creative forward was overlooked in the AFL national draft last month despite interest from at least 12 clubs.
North Ballarat Rebels region manager Phil Partington said there were “no guarantees” in football and that smaller rookie lists made it hard to assess clubs’ thoughts.
“The rookie draft is an interesting one with the number of picks,” he said.
“There might be 12 to 15 new talent in the rookie draft. It is going to be really difficult for any boy to gain selection this year.”
Five North Ballarat Rebels players made their way onto AFL lists during the trade period and via the national draft, including Koroit jet Martin Gleeson.
Essendon used pick 53 to snare Gleeson, a late-developing defender.
Partington said his TAC Cup club was confident of adding to its draftees today.
“The boys are training really well. We have had interest from AFL clubs which is promising,” he said.
“It’s always a step in the right direction when clubs are speaking to you after the national draft and getting more information on players.
“If they’re not picked up, they have careers in the VFL or as a 19-year-old in the TAC Cup.”
Partington said Herbert, who finished VCE at Emmanuel College and opted not to relocate to Ballarat for his final school year, would be considered for a Rebels’ over-age spot if he was overlooked.
“We are looking at that, no doubt,” he said.
“Louie was the most underdeveloped player in our squad.
“We say school is number one and Louie concentrated on school and trained with us seven or eight times.”
Dwyer, another South Warrnambool product, has been linked to Collingwood as a mature-age recruit.
The Port Melbourne premiership player, 26, has proven himself as a consistent midfielder at VFL level. Rounds, who was delisted by Collingwood at the end of the season, said he was training with Port Melbourne.
The Terang Mortlake export said he had spoken to a couple of AFL clubs shortly after Collingwood delisted him.
“I’m not real confident,” Rounds said.
“If something happens it would be handy but if not I’ll just plod along.”
South Warrnambool and Geelong VFL-listed defender Matt Sully, North Ballarat Rebels’ pair Tom Smith (North Warrnambool Eagles) and Haydn Drew (Koroit) and Geelong Falcons’ Daniel Watson (Cobden) are also hoping to be thrown an AFL chance.