Forget relaxing Origin eligibility rules. Expand the series to include NZ and Pacific Nations

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Former Queensland coach Graham Lowe wants State of Origin expanded to include New Zealand and a combined Pacific Islands team, rejecting a proposal for looser eligibility in the interstate series.

Current NSW coach Brad Fittler has advocated relaxed rules to allow more big- name players onto the Origin stage whenever it returns in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Wayne wants NFL-like divisons

NRL: Bunnies coach Wayne Bennett thinks that splitting the NRL into dividions could be the way forward for the sport moving forward.

The money-spinning series would go to another level of interest if the likes of superstar forward Jason Taumalolo was eligible for Queensland, Fittler told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Taumalolo’s first professional deal was signed with the North Queensland Cowboys although he is registered to the NRL as a Tongan.

Lowe, who steered the Maroons to Origin success in 1991, acknowledged Origin’s popularity but said it had lost integrity through its lax eligibility rules. He restated his preference for adding a New Zealand team as part of an overall re-modelling of rugby league.

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He also proposed an Island side be introduced to a four-way series, capitalising on the rise of Tonga as an international power.

“Resource-wise, those Island nations would find it hard to do it on their own but an Island-team that encompassed the Islands, that would be a start,” Lowe told AAP.

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“It could be a combination of Tonga, Fiji and Samoa. There’s certainly enough firepower there.

“I would see a new representative window altogether. There’s easily enough talent from New Zealand and the criteria for Origin could become far more stringent.”

The prospect of a Kiwis team in State of Origin has been mooted previously.

Brad Fittler called for relaxed eligibility laws for the 2020 series.Source:Getty Images

Former New Zealand captain Benji Marshall is among those to have vented at how Kiwis-eligible players had effectively aligned themselves with Australia by choosing to play Origin.

Lowe said a revamped post-coronavirus calendar should promote the importance of Test matches, which he believes have become an irrelevance to those running the NRL.

“However, it’s going to start again, it’s got to start with a fresh look.

“The biggest risk to international football is the fact it’s being disrespected by the clubs. The clubs haven’t allowed any window for it to be played.”

Originally published asForget relaxing Origin eligibility rules. Expand the series to include NZ and Pacific Nations

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Over 40 jobs could be cut at NRL HQ. Greenberg doesn’t think he’s one of them

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NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg says he’s fully committed to seeing out the game’s coronavirus-enforced crisis but admits there could be more than 40 jobs cut at headquarters.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph published on Sunday, Greenberg also said all NRL 16 clubs are on their own financially with no more bailouts available.

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Madge on NRL start date

NRL: Michael McGuire talks to the Fox League team about when he thinks the NRL may return.

The chief executive has been encouraged to continue in the role after receiving messages of support from club CEOs and chairs, and also former ARL boss John Quayle.

“This is the biggest challenge our game has ever faced,” he told the newspaper.

“I’m absolutely fully committed to it and I’m buoyed by the messages of support this week, the phone calls and messages from people in and around the game.”

He said while he has been seen to publicly “butt heads” with clubs bosses, their recent feedback has been encouraging.

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“I’ve given an assurance to the commission that we’ll roll up the sleeves, work hard and come out the other side,” Greenberg said.

He explained every part of the NRL including football, welfare, integrity, admin, development, clubs, states and headquarters will need slash costs. Greenberg foreshadowed more than 40 people could lose their jobs permanently.

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“I think it will be more than that,” he said.

“It’s a terrible time but I’ve never been more committed. I’ve said that to (Australian Rugby League Commission chairman) Peter V’landys.”

The NRL chief executive confirmed that, like the players, he will be paid for one more month but then won’t be paid again until they return to field.

Greenberg said league expansion isn’t off the table but hasn’t been a priority given the pandemic.

“It might actually create more revenue for the game. It’s a conversation we have to continue. We’ll look at all opportunities,” he added.

Originally published asOver 40 jobs could be cut at NRL HQ. Greenberg doesn’t think he’s one of them

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Eddie Jones set for showdown talks with England ace Joe Marler over rugby retirement

Eddie Jones will sit down with Joe Marler to try to persuade the disillusione prop to carry on in rugby when the lockdown restrictions are eased. Marler, who came out of Test retirement to resume his international career in 2019, was reported to be considering quitting the professional game for good at 29 after being handed a ten-week ban for groping Alun Wyn Jones in England’s win over against Wales last month.

But the England coach, who last week signed a contract extension through to the 2023 World Cup, wants Marler on the journey with him and intends to use Springbok prop Tendai Mtawarira as an example of what could lie ahead if he recommits.

England are well stocked at loose-head with Mako Vunipola and Ellis Genge but Marler is the best pure scrummager of the lot. ‘The Beast’ showed in destroying England in the World Cup final how valuable a setpiece asset can still be.

“You only have to look at The Beast who was at his best in the World Cup in 2019 at the age of 34,” said Jones.

“Joe is a relatively young man with a lot of rugby ahead of him but you have to have the desire to keep playing. Only Joe knows that. At the end of the day, he is a great player but we want players who want to play for England. He will make that decision.

“There is a lot of depth to him as a character: he has obviously made some mistakes but he is a great team man, rugby player and person. I look forward to having a chat with him at the appropriate time.

“We were due to catch up in Horsham a couple of weeks ago but the social distancing rules came in. The next opportunity I get I will catch up face to face.”

The Harlequins prop argued at his disciplinary hearing three weeks ago that while he had committed foul play in tweaking the testicles of the Wales captain the act did not deserve a red card.

The panel hearing the case disagreed and banned Marler until June 8. Ironically he may end up missing no rugby at all while suspended because of a shutdown which could run and run.

The fallout from a Six Nations game in which Manu Tuilagi was also sent off for a high tackle continued post-match when Jones questioned referee Ben O’Keeffe’s impartiality by claiming England had been playing against 16 men.

The England coach was reprimanded by the RFU and warned over his future conduct and admits now he regrets his outburst.

“I did not directly apologise but indirectly we did,” said Jones. “I made it clear that it was an inappropriate way to express my disappointment and the next time I see him I will definitely have a chat with him. He is a good young fella.”

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It’s been a big week in art … with Jim Pavlidis

For a few hours earlier this week, the Twittersphere was abuzz following Tayla Harris’ announcement of her AFLW retirement to “dedicate my time to being a stay-at-home mum for my 2.5 y/o.”

Calm was restored when she later added ‘April fools lol, AFLW players already parent and play’.

Putting the boot in: illustration by Jim Pavlidis (left), and The Giant Stride original by Ethel Spowers.Credit:

Just over a year ago Harris was at the centre of a much darker social media storm when that wonderful photo of her magnificent kicking action raised the misogynist ire of idiots.

She held her nerve through an awful time, and that famous kick is now acknowledged as a giant stride in footy’s evolution.

The Giant Stride is also a 1933 linocut print by Ethel Spowers. Like other female Australian artists of the era, Spowers didn’t attract the level of attention of her male contemporaries, however history now recognises her talent and contribution to our culture.

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True extent of rugby union’s woes

The coronavirus outbreak has bluntly exposed rugby union’s financial instability – countless clubs and organisations face the prospect of bankruptcy if the epidemic continues.

England’s RFU – arguably the sport’s wealthiest organisation – is predicting a AU$102 million financial black hole, while Rugby Australia will suffer an estimated $120 million revenue loss if no rugby is played in 2020. One can only imagine how the minnow nations will cope.

However, RFU CEO Bill Sweeney believes a silver lining will emerge from the economic turmoil – a radical overhaul of rugby union could lead to greater global co-operation and a more prosperous sport.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted pre-existing faults in the sport, and Sweeney believes unions will be forced to work with one another to ensure survival and eventual prosperity.

RFU CEO Bill SweeneySource:Getty Images

“What's coming out of this is another level of co-operation and collaboration that is going on,” Sweeney told BBC Sport.

“Everyone knows where the issues and problems lie, but we haven't had a degree of co-operation and collaboration previously to be able to solve that. I think that is changing.

“We are talking to World Rugby and we are talking to the southern hemisphere almost daily at the moment, which is a good thing.

“We all want them to survive this, and they are slightly more exposed than us because they are at the very start of their season.”

Sweeney is adamant significant changes are inventible, and the upcoming restructure for global rugby union will rid of past predicaments that have plagued the sport, such as maintaining revenue generation.

“What this crisis has highlighted is the fault lines that exist in the global game,” he explained.

“It would make no sense to come out of this and just carry on as before. We are looking at things now in terms of all bets are off, and a blank sheet of paper.

“How do we work together so we come out of this with a much stronger international game, a more rationalised calendar, that makes more sense to the fans and makes more sense to the commercial partners. How do we come out of it so everyone can benefit?

“Maybe that is optimistic, but I really do believe that coming out of this, you will see a different structure and a different shape.”

South Africa won their third Ruby Word Cup in NovemberSource:News Corp Australia

Reports have indicated Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle could be replaced by former Wallabies skipper Phil Kearns in the near future, according to The Daily Telegraph.

A growing fracture between RA and the Rugby Union Players’ Association has caused added turmoil as the two sides look to reach an agreement during the coronavirus shutdown.

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Wallaby great slams ‘atrocious’ management

World Cup-winning captain Nick Farr-Jones has declared Rugby Australia “unbankable” and feels it’s probably time the entire board stepped down.

Farr-Jones believes the coronavirus pandemic has merely brought RA’s dire financial woes to a head and says the governing body only has itself to blame.

“In sport, your revenues come from three areas,” he told Triple M radio on Saturday.

“Broadcasting is representative of about 40 or 50 per cent of anticipated revenues or budgeted revenues and then you’ve got sponsors chip in about a third and the balance is largely game day, which is bums on seats and merchandising and what have you.

“And I think in all those three areas in the last couple of years, rugby has managed the game atrociously.”

Nick Farr-Jones captained Australia during the 1991 Rugby World Cup.Source:AFP

One of the Wallabies’ greatest players, Farr-Jones was particularly scathing at RA’s botching of a new broadcast deal, which has left the code in Australia facing insolvency.

“Sadly, because we don’t have a broadcasting deal, which the other codes do have, we are basically, in my opinion, unbankable,” he said.

“The NFL went out and raised, I think it was, $600 million through banks. I mean, what a phenomenal situation because they’ve got this great broadcasting agreement that’s in place.

“I think the NRL recently announced that they were going to give each club $2.5 million. That is because they’re bankable.

“What are the future incomes of Rugby Australia look to? A hole in the doughnut.”

Amid growing speculation that his 1991 World Cup-winning teammate Phil Kearns was eyeing the top job, Farr-Jones was asked if it was time for RA chief executive Raelene Castle – who also presided over last year’s financially crippling Israel Folau saga – to step aside.

“I think the rugby community has lost confidence in the senior executives and the board of Rugby Australia. There’s no doubt about that,” he said.

“It hasn’t been fantastic the last couple of years.

“Not only has the way we’ve played, be it the Super clubs or the disappointment of last year’s World Cup in Japan.

“But it’s really all aspects of the game … you look at the crowd numbers, for example.”

Nick Farr-Jones played 63 Test matches for Australia.Source:News Corp Australia

Farr-Jones said, as part of its SANZAAR agreement with New Zealand’s and South Africa’s ruling bodies, it was RA’s responsibility to guarantee the financial viability of Australia’s five Super Rugby clubs.

And he’s not surprised Castle and company have been holding out on meeting with the Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) over the past week.

“If it wasn’t for the participation fee that we would have got from last year’s World Cup, which was an outstanding success in Japan, we’d be broke now,” Farr-Jones said.

“That would be the only reserves we’ve got.

“I think the only reason Rugby Australia hasn’t sat down with RUPA sooner and cut a deal is because then they’d be crystallising liabilities going forward, which they don’t have income to pay for.

“That is an ongoing concern issue. If you’re a board director, you basically have to look at voluntary administration.

“So that is the reason I think they’ve stalled on meeting with RUPA. That’s why they cut 75 per cent of their staff last week. We just don’t have the income going forward.”

AAP

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NRL as essential exercise? The game might want to look outside itself

Rugby league was always a workers' game and so it is, again, determined to be the last worker to leave when the lights went out, and equally set on being the first in when they come back on. If the National Rugby League wants to consider the full consequences of its plans to re-start the 2020 competition in July or even June, it can take guidance from what is happening on our coasts and our golf clubs.

Like shut-in families, this crisis goes through a phase a day. Last week we were all in this together. This week we are still all in it together except for those who are not. The first flush of novelty, shoulder-to-shoulder unity against the invisible enemy, has given way to fractiousness. As cabin fever sets in, players' unions are in open conflict with their governing bodies. Rugby union players and their administration are brawling over an empty cashbox. Rugby league players are demanding a transparency they never wanted, a consultation they never used, and guarantees of future income that doesn't exist.

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys and National Rugby League chief executive Todd Greenberg.Credit:AAP

Maybe the incurable affliction of our time is our short attention span. Three days of good epidemiological figures and ARL Commission chair Peter V'landys, increasingly the de facto operational head of the NRL, has pronounced the flattening of the COVID-19 curve and its possibilities for rugby league to restart. Short of joining the corona-sceptic hoax brigade, the NRL is champing at the bit to declare the emergency past its worst. Like my daughter, who will do anything you want just as long as you haven't told her to do it, V'landys has been pointing out that the NRL shut down on its own advice, not waiting to be forced by the government, as if this is to the NRL's credit and frees it up to recommence whenever its own advice says so. But that's true to the spirit of a sport that has always been about understanding the rules, and then working out what you can get away with.

The flipside of any public health success Australia achieves in moderating the virus's spread is that it encourages those who never believed in it in the first place. It's an adaptation of the free-speech wars, where dissenters rally around the banner of their self-designated expertise.

What does this have to do with our coasts and golf clubs? The NSW government lists "exercise", without further definition, as one of the permitted "reasonable excuses" for being outside, as long as physical distancing is observed. I've been at the beach on some of those days when photos were taken of people "flouting" the rules and putting public health at risk. The truth was that nearly all of those people were alone or in pairs, were running or walking and not gathering, and keeping a safe distance. What touched the public nerve was not the "flouting" of the rules so much as the apparent display of hedonism and frivolity. Whatever side of the fun-police barricade you stand on, it's understandable that exercise-as-hedonism would provoke this reaction.

Down the south coast, where there is a well-documented hostility to city folk coming to sit out the crisis in their holiday houses, a similar dynamic is at work. I have a friend doing just that in a south coast village. The few locals he has seen have been friendly – but it helps that he is hobbling around on a crutch while recovering from surgery rather than frolicking in the waves with a smile on his face. People who are suffering take exception to their space being used for pleasure-seeking.

The line between exercise-as-business and exercise-as-hedonism is where the NRL must tread with extreme care.

Golf courses, meanwhile, are in chaos. Last week they were open, this week they were shut, but now the government has allowed them to be open again. The national body, Golf Australia, has advised that they shut. Many clubs have defied this and stayed open. Golf, like running, cycling or swimming and surfing at the beach, can be played in physical isolation. It needn't compromise public health. But is golf an offensive form of self-indulgence?

On the other side – ironically, dominated by elderly voices and their champions such as re-tooled free speech warriors Mark Latham and Ray Hadley – golf is just exercise, and especially for elderly, isolated people, it does more good than harm. And who said people playing golf were having fun anyway? Sydney golf pro David Saunders estimates 80 per cent of golfers exist in a place called "golf hell". Like those grimacing distance runners and cyclists, most golfers only begin to enjoy themselves once it's over. It's not hedonism, it's a peculiar form of masochism. Golf Australia, which continues to advise clubs to remain closed, does not classify the game as a form of "exercise" for current purposes.

What, really, is "exercise"? If it's physical and mental maintenance, one's personal health-industry job, then it is universally permitted. Cyclists and joggers beating their way up hills, grim solo outdoor bench-pressers – all good. But if exercise brings frivolity, hedonism or public displays of joy, then it upsets others. It's not functional exercise, it looks more like play.

This line between exercise-as-business and exercise-as-hedonism is where the NRL must tread with extreme care. V'landys is stewarding rugby league like a business that needs to keep people employed, a family that must be fed. He is exploring every option to get income flowing back into the "game". That is a key part of the NRL's job, and they would be remiss if they acted otherwise.

The paradox is that to excusably restart the competition in mid-year, in a sealed environment, under safe conditions, rugby league must not be a "game". It must be an essential form of economic activity, exercise-as-business, without a hint of play. It can be functional but not joyful. Stripped back to its essence as a manufactured product, as joyless as a gym punishment session, it's hard to imagine such a thing being very watchable. When the world is back on its feet, it will celebrate sporting events without restraint. But if a particular code tries to jump the gun, returning with unseemly haste, putting pragmatism ahead of humanity, beware the backlash.

Why should the NRL care? Why not plough ahead in its own little world and provide that all-important broadcast content, get to that next payday?

Professional leagues derive their income chiefly from two sources: broadcast rights and sponsorship. Whether the penny has dropped or not, future broadcast money in Australia will be substantially less. Which means sponsorship will be increasingly important. Sponsorship comes when a business has a good reputation. By hastening to get onto the field when so many are dying, by treating itself as an essential exercise industry, the NRL is building a reputation for servicing its true believers. Perhaps that is responsible short-term management. But the quid pro quo in the long term is that its future income will come from no further than the boundaries of that bubble. Insular is tight. Insular is strong. Insular won't ever be rich again.

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Tasmania’s AFL licence taskforce prepared to be patient on bid

The man who put together the business case for a standalone AFL team in Tasmania says he has not given up hope of a team from the Apple Isle eventually winning a provisional licence to join the AFL despite the financial impact of the coronavirus shutdown.

However he said the bid – which did not argue for a merger or a relocation of an existing team – is not something the AFL should be thinking about right now as they attempt to steer the competition through the coronavirus pandemic and ensure an 18-team competition in its current form remains when matches resume.

North Melbourne hosted a pre-season match in Hobart this year and have played games in Tasmania since 2012.Credit:Getty Images

However the case for a team in Tasmania was based on an extra team joining the competition rather than reducing the number of teams or instigating a merger.

"Our model was based on a Tasmanian-established club to ensure immediate buy-in from all Tasmanian supporters," Godfrey said.

The discussion led North Melbourne to release a joint statement from chairman Ben Buckley and CEO Ben Amarfio on Thursday which expressed their disappointment at the discussion.

"Now is not the time to be talking about mergers, relocations and vulnerable clubs – we are all at risk and must come together to fight for the existence of our game as we once knew it," Buckley said.

"We also want to highlight our partnership with Tasmania and the great football-loving community there. We have been playing games in Hobart since 2012 and have enjoyed a tremendous relationship with the people, the government and our partners such as Spirit of Tasmania."

North Melbourne have played games in Hobart since 2012 and their deal with the Tasmanian government lasts until the end of 2021.

In February the state opposition in Tasmania argued that the deal with North Melbourne should be used as leverage in negotiations with the AFL for a licence to have a standalone team in Tasmania.

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RFU confirm Newcastle Falcons to be promoted back to Premiership

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) have announced Newcastle Falcons will be promoted from the Greene King IPA Championship to the Gallagher Premiership next season.

Newcastle were top of the Championship table, having won all 15 of their matches, when the RFU decided to end the season last month due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ealing Trailfinders were 18 points behind, having played one match fewer than the league leaders.

The final league positions will be calculated based on a “best playing-record formula”. The RFU said the final league tables would be available on Friday. This will also apply to leagues throughout the men’s and women’s community game.

The RFU also announced the 2019/20 season for the Tyrrells Premier 15s will be declared null and void.

Saracens Women had been top of the league after winning all 12 of their games to date and held a two-point lead over Harlequins Women when the league was suspended.

The RFU said in a statement: “Following the early end of the rugby season in England as a result of COVID-19, The RFU is today announcing the final league positions for the Greene King IPA Championship, Tyrrells Premier 15s and men’s and women’s community game.

“Proposals from the RFU governance committee to conclude the season for those leagues at both professional and community level were yesterday ratified by the RFU Council.

“It was agreed that final standings for the Greene King IPA Championship and men’s and women’s community game would be calculated on a best playing record formula, maintaining promotion and relegation for those leagues. The Tyrrells Premier 15s season has been declared null and void as there is no promotion or relegation in this league.”

A row erupted last month when Ealing director of rugby Ben Ward told the Rugby Paper his club were taking legal advice over the suspension of the Championship season.

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards branded the comments “distasteful”.

RFU president Peter Wheeler insists the decision to promote Newcastle is “fair” and “right”.

“We believe that the decisions made provide fair and balanced outcomes for the game and maintain the integrity of the competitions,” Wheeler said.

“We have listened to recommendations from the heart of the game and the approach has been ratified by the RFU Council.

“This has been a difficult decision to make in the most unprecedented of circumstances. There is no single solution that will suit every club, but the approach taken is one that we believe best reflects the nature of league rugby in England.

“This has been a difficult decision to make in the most unprecedented of circumstances. There is no single solution that will suit every club, but the approach taken is one that we believe best reflects the nature of league rugby in England.”

RFU President Peter Wheeler

“With 80 per cent of the season complete for the community game, we believe our approach is fair and the right one for our leagues.

“We have clubs that are clear league leaders and those who have said they would benefit from relegation to play more meaningful rugby.”

‘One rule for one and one rule for another’

Despite Newcastle’s 18-point lead, Ealing fly-half Steven Shingler insists the outcome of the Championship season was not a foregone conclusion and he feels the Falcons appear to be getting preferential treatment from the RFU.

Shingler told Sky Sports News: “Well, it is surprising. I didn’t really think there would any promotion or relegation in any leagues. As a keen sports fan, I have been following Welsh rugby, Scottish rugby and Irish rugby and there is no promotion in any leagues.

“To hear Newcastle are going up, it seems like there is one rule for one and one rule for another, but having said that they probably deserve to go up.

“I would have just loved to have another crack at them. We felt we were probably the better side at home, albeit they beat us with a bonus point, so it sounds a little bit naive and silly saying that.

“It is mainly just to challenge ourselves again. We have gone undefeated since the turn of the New Year so the opportunity to play a Premiership side and the best side in the league was one I was looking forward to.

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Blues in dark over father-son prospects

Charlie McKay wants to play for Carlton, the club his father captained and that his sister Abbie joined as the AFL's first father-daughter, and the Blues certainly are considering McKay as a father-son recruit in 2020, without any guarantees.

If father-son recruits are often tricky calls, the Blues face an additional difficulty in 2020, because they are likely to be "flying blind" when determining Charlie McKay's worth, since there is a significant chance that there will be no elite under-18 nor even school football this year.

Footy ties: Siblings Abbie and Charlie McKay. Credit:Carlton Media

McKay, the son of 244-game premiership player and ex-skipper Andrew McKay, has shown considerable improvement with the Sandringham Dragons, but there is a serious possibility that, as with other father-son prospects at Richmond, Adelaide, Port Adelaide and Carlton, the father's club might not see him play, in any competition, during a suspended season.

The Blues also have Tom Silvagni, the third son of club great and ex-list manager Stephen Silvagni, as a potential father-son, with no 2020 form-line, having already drafted his brothers Jack and Ben.

Richmond is eyeing Maurice Rioli junior, the son of the late Maurice Rioli, who has shown electrifying glimpses – recruiters from rival clubs even comparing his style to celebrated cousin Cyril – in the Northern Territory and for Scotch College, while Adelaide and Luke Edwards – the second son of 300-game dual premiership player Tyson Edwards – are both keeping their options open on whether Luke becomes a second generation Crow.

Port Adelaide is well-placed to bid on Taj Schofield, the son of assistant coach Jarrad Schofield, although Port's academy prospect, Lachlan James, is rated more highly by other clubs and thus should attract an earlier bid under the draft system.

Rioli, Edwards and Schofield have more exposed form in juniors or state leagues (Rioli starring in the NTFL finals at senior level) than McKay, a 186cm midfielder/half-back with the Dragons and Melbourne Grammar, although McKay showed sufficient improvement to win a starting midfield position with the Sandringham Dragons in pre-season trial games before the season shutdown.

The decision on McKay, as with other sons, is not as simple as deciding if he's worth a spot on the playing list. The complication is where to place him in the draft order, under a matching-bid system, in the event that he does not play at all in 2020.

Recruiters point out there is an additional risk in 2020 – that lists will be significantly cut, from 44 or 45 (counting rookies) to just 35 or 36. This makes every recruiting call more telling, and even raises the possibility that a player such as McKay – a probable late pick if drafted – could even sit out the next national draft.

Hawthorn takes a firm position on father-sons, which was reflected in their assessment of Finn Maginness, the son of Scott Maginness, who joined the Hawks in the second round of last year's draft. The Hawks were only committed to picking Maginness if he attracted a bid that was after their first round pick.

Father-son calls are often political, too, in that a club risks a backlash if they don't pick the son of a gun who subsequently proves to be a good or excellent AFL player.

If North Melbourne clearly paid "overs" for Luke McDonald, sacrificing a top 10 pick for the son of Donald McDonald in 2013, Collingwood seem blessed, at this early stage, to have landed Tyler Brown, who made an eye-catching debut in round one against the Bulldogs. The second Brown brother, who, like McKay, had not proven himself as an elite junior, cost the Magpies only a late choice, pick number 50.

The fate of father-sons might not rate among the most pressing issues for clubs in a diabolical 2020, but it is a question that will engage – and potentially enrage – the fans.

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