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No Tasmanian draftees selected

Dinny Navaratnam  November 28, 2016 10:06 AM

THE IMPROVED talent pool from New South Wales and Queensland and the allure of other sports were key reasons Tasmania did not have any draftees for the first time since 1986, state academy coach Adam Sanders says.

Making matters worse for the Apple Isle, next year is not expected to be a bountiful crop either.

Tasmania has had 16 players picked up in the past four years, in line with the benchmark the state sets for itself.

"It was obviously disappointing (to have no one drafted on Friday). We always tried to think four draftees each year from Tassie was a pretty good mark," Sanders told AFL.com.au. 

"That's getting harder now with the northern states doing really well with their academies. There's certainly a stronger market over the whole country, so that makes it harder for Tassie."

While Tasmania had players in the Allies side at the national carnival this year, the under-16s side won the division two title. Tarryn Thomas looms as the most exciting prospect from that side, with the 2018 NAB AFL Draft expected to be productive for the state.

However, 2017 is not as promising.

"Next year's a little bit unknown. We've got some players that could potentially (be drafted). I'm not saying next year's going to be a stellar year by any stretch," Sanders said.

"It is a challenge from year to year. It's a little bit up and down, this year, and heading into the next two or three or four years.

"We're fighting, as all the other states are, for the talented kids. Most of the talented kids in Tassie are also mixed up in basketball and soccer and cricket in particular, which is quite a big sport in Tassie with the Tigers' program."

The academy players in Queensland and New South Wales are able learn from their affiliated clubs, which Sanders said helps their development.

"It's getting hard. Those kids get access to AFL environments, which is fantastic for them. I know there's a mentoring program there," he said.

"It is a challenge. We have some AFL clubs come down here but it's on a fly in, fly out basis."

North Melbourne's next generation academy for players aged 11-15 will help build the pool of players to pick from.

In addition to that, Sanders will take four indigenous players to Arden Street in December to help their development.

There were mitigating circumstances this year. The state's most promising player, Harry Pearce, broke his leg in the first round of the state league season, and what was meant to be an injury that kept him out for up to eight weeks lingered much longer.

An explosive half-forward, Pearce is seriously quick and trained for a midfield role in the pre-season. He went to the state combine but is still not completely over the leg issue.

Similarly, defender Jack Donnellan impressed at the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships last year but a knee injury meant he wasn't able to show his wares this year.

Both were initially draft hopefuls but it is unlikely either will be selected in the rookie draft on Monday. Sanders hopes they come back as over-age players next year and eventually make their way into the AFL.

"We're not happy about it (no draftees) but it's not a knee-jerk reaction, thinking that everything needs fixing. We've just got to keep improving and keep our program relevant," Sanders said.

"More exposure to AFL programs is, I believe, critical. That's part of the next gen academy processes, so hopefully that keeps developing."