Tom Boyd on the front page.

News travels: Tom Boyd's mother grew up in Denmark where his selection by GWS made front page.

First, the good news. Of the 40 players given their first chance in Wednesday's rookie draft, seven came from other countries.

A couple had not even heard of the game this time last year. But Hawthorn added its two New Zealand kids, Carlton drafted two Irish boys and Port Adelaide one, while Sydney and St Kilda rookie-listed an American each. Fremantle may yet sign a fourth Irishman, by the mid-December deadline.

After some initial scepticism about the AFL's international push, clubs are becoming more curious about looking outside the system. In addition to those seven internationals, Essendon signed an 800-metre runner and Geelong listed a basketballer, under the alternative talent rule.

''I think everyone's become a bit more open to experimenting and a bit more willing to branch out and see how things go,'' said one recruiter. ''It doesn't cost much to try.''

Now, for the flip side. Of the 102 first-timers drafted this year, from the national and rookie draft pools, just eight came from the northern states - Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory. It was two before the rookie draft, with only Jonathan Freeman and Jake Barrett taken by the Brisbane Lions and the Giants, who had first dibs on them.

No player was drafted from the Northern Territory this year, at all. Tasmania made up some of the slack; it usually averages a couple of draftees and had five kids taken in the national draft and another two rookies. Still, there were as many players drafted from outside Australia as those three states.

It wasn't a good result, and the AFL knew it was coming. Draft numbers have dipped in the past two years and clubs haven't loaded up on draftees like they used to before Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney came along, the two new teams helping drain the talent pool.

In time, the league hopes kids from NSW and Queensland, in particular, will pad out the numbers. It has attached development academies to the four AFL clubs in those states and this year had about 1400 kids enrolled, aged from 11 up.

Freeman was the first to graduate - the Lions took him in the third round after Adelaide made a bid for him with one of its picks . While some clubs have doubts, having seen the compulsory NSW scholarship scheme produce only a couple of established AFL players, others are convinced that more talent will start to come through.

In the interim, the players that are there will be placed in front of more eyes next year. NSW will play seven TAC Cup games in 2014, and Queensland six, up from four this year. The NT and Tasmania will play only four each, which is a shame, but the extra games will at least give recruiters more opportunities to assess the second division kids against decent rivals.

Six of the 30 kids in the current AIS-AFL Academy group are from Queensland and NSW, which is encouraging, although seven years ago Queensland had 11 players drafted and another eight rookied.

The best will play senior football in the NEAFL once their under-18 commitments are over in the middle of next season. ''We've been working on that for six months, knowing that this year might not be super and that we have to continually build and tweak the programs to provide better coaching, better competition, better match play,'' said AFL talent manager Kevin Sheehan. ''We want to end up with something like 20 per cent of draftees coming into the AFL from those states.''

In the meantime, the international expansion will continue. The AFL will have loved that Tom Boyd featured on the front page of a Danish newspaper after being drafted at No.1 last week - his mother Anita was born there. Several clubs have established programs in Ireland, others are looking into North America.

''I think that will just get bigger but it's a shame we can get those guys in and spend a couple of years developing them as rookies, but you can't do the same thing with a kid from a developing state or from remote places in Australia,'' said one recruiter.