Thursday 17 February 2011

The Gold Coast Suns Reserves have been given approval by the AFL to use their full list of players unrestricted in the inaugural NEAFL season.

Included in the NEAFL Northern Conference alongside the Brisbane

Lions Reserves and eight former QAFL clubs in 2011, the Suns will not have restrictions imposed on them like those that have applied to the Lions in the past.

Given the strength and professionalism of AFL lists, the Lions have been restricted in the number of listed players allowed in their 22 each week, and on the ground at any one time.

However, the youth of the fledgling Gold Coast list has convinced the AFL to allow the Suns to use all of their players in the NEAFL.

The Suns have the biggest list in the AFL – 52 players – but 36 of those are aged 18 to 20.

All 12 of their listed players with AFL experience are expected to play at the top level and not spend any time in the NEAFL.

While many of the Queensland-based clubs were against the Suns having open slather, the Gold Coast convinced the AFL otherwise.

“We have considered a wide spectrum of views on this issue and have taken into account the pros and cons that have been put by numerous parties,” said AFL Development Strategy and Operations Manager Grant Williams.

“The Suns 2011 list is vastly different to any other AFL List in terms of age and experience.

“They are on average one year younger than even the Melbourne Demons and have basically 30% of the AFL experience of most clubs. It is likely that all of this experience will be playing AFL in 2011, not with the Suns Reserves team.”

Williams added that given the fact the Suns had been afforded an extended player list compared to other AFL Clubs, they needed flexibility to be able to develop, view and assess it quickly. A full complement in the Reserves would assist this.

Another strong factor in the decision was the situation that would arise if the Suns had been forced to send left-over players to local NEAFL clubs.

“The logic of the Suns farming out their excess players to local clubs and then having to ask for other players back off the same clubs to act as ‘top-ups’ was not logical or practical,” Williams said.

Normal player qualification rules apply for the NEAFL finals, whereby players selected for the finals matches must have played at least three games in the NEAFL to qualify.

This qualification rule will also apply in the first two weeks of the NEAFL Northern Conference Finals series when the Suns senior team will be participating in AFL Rounds 23 and 24.

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