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Collingwood’s Alex Woodward (left) is averaging 31 possessions this season and will be a mid-season draft candidate.

Collingwood’s Alex Woodward (left) is averaging 31 possessions this season and will be a mid-season draft candidate.

VICTORIAN FOOTBALL

Mid-season draft: Gary Ayres says VFL clubs should be compensated if they lose players

Caulfield Glen Eira Leader

May 14, 2019 3:30pm

Port Melbourne coach Gary Ayres says VFL clubs should be compensated if their players are selected in the mid-season draft.

A string of VFL players is being touted as candidates for the May 27 draft, most notably dynamic Coburg small forward Sam Lowson.

VFL PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2019

Although his emerging defenders Harvey Hooper and Callum Searle are coming under notice, Ayres isn’t expecting any Boroughs to be taken.

But he said the issue of compensation needed to be addressed.

Ayres said the VFL was a trusty recruiting ground for AFL clubs — 10 players were claimed in last year’s national and rookie drafts — and draftees brought great promotion to the league.

“I think if you speak to any coach, they’ll tell you they’re always delighted when one of their players makes that particular move up to the AFL,’’ he said.

“I know it was a great positive for us when Brody Mihocek went to Collingwood (at the end of 2017).

“That’s all really positive, but with this new draft we’ve got to address that question of some compensation. If a player was to go, what does the club get in return?

Coburg’s Sam Lowson.

“Whether it’s money or some kind of pick, I don’t know. In my mind it should be something because a club would in all probability be put at a disadvantage. It’s not like when players are drafted at the end of the year. You’ve got a reasonable idea and a reasonable amount of time to replace him like for like. But the middle of the season, that’s a different situation. You’re not in the same position. You’d still be happy for the player, of course — it’s everyone’s dream to play at the highest level.’’

Port Melbourne coach Gary Ayres.

Ayres said Port Melbourne probably would not have won the premiership if a mid-season draft operated in 2017 and Mihocek and Jordan Lisle had been listed by AFL clubs.

He said he agreed with the suggestion that a player who was drafted should continue with his VFL club when he wasn’t lining up in the AFL.

Some VFL general managers have also raised the idea of a mid-season transfer window.

It would allow clubs that lose players in the May draft to sign players from aligned clubs or the VFL teams of AFL clubs.

If Coburg farewelled Lowson, for example, it would have scope to sign a small forward who could be struggling for opportunities at, say, North Melbourne or Box Hill Hawks.

There were two in-season transfers in the VFL last year when Collingwood defender Ryan Pendlebury crossed to Port Melbourne and Essendon ruckman Kieran Strachan moved to the Borough.

But later in the season the league shut down Williamstown’s attempt to sign Liam Hunt when he walked out on Coburg.

This year’s rules do not permit players to change VFL clubs during the season.