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Historic drop in rookie draft numbers as clubs lose faith

FEWER than 30 rookies could be drafted into the AFL this year, the least in the history of the draft.

Clubs have also largely lost faith in the national draft pool that they rated highly just 18 months ago, meaning fewer than 100 first-time players could be drafted this year.

A survey of the 18 clubs has revealed that, with rookie lists dropping from six players to four next season, a maximum of 39 names will be called out, compared to the previous low of 52 players in 2005.

As few as 27 players could be picked, with some clubs still determining how many selections they will make in the December 11 draft.

Geelong will draft no fresh rookies, having reluctantly cut Jonathan Simpkin to retain Josh Walker, Cam Eardley, George Burbury and Jackson Sheringham, while the Western Bulldogs also have a full list.

Adelaide, Carlton, Essendon, Fremantle, Gold Coast, Hawthorn and St Kilda are planning to bring in one and no more than two new rookies. Collingwood will fill its list of four and add basketballer Ben Richmond as an alternate talent rookie.

Clubs can list up to three category B rookies (international, alternate talent or New South Wales scholarship) with Richmond recently signing Papua New Guinean Gideon Simon as an international rookie. Clubs plan to choose about 65 to 70 first-time draftees, with three father-son selections (Joe Daniher, Jack Viney and Lachlan Hunter) boosting the numbers.

Fifteen of the 18 clubs will upgrade 23 rookies, while Adelaide's Ian Callinan moves from being a nominated rookie to an upgraded one.

Having brought Josh Caddy, Jared Rivers and Hamish McIntosh in through trading and free agency - and upgraded rookie Jesse Stringer - the Cats will bring just two untried new players to their club.

Jaeger O'Meara and Brad Crouch, chosen by Gold Coast and Adelaide in last year's 17-year-old mini-draft, loom as top five selections in a draft where GWS, Port Adelaide, St Kilda and the Bulldogs will have significant picks.

The three Northern Territory players traded by GWS - Jed Anderson, Jake Neade and Dom Barry - were also considered likely draftees.

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