AFL News: Surprise new team enters race for 20th licence, Eagles close in on priority pick for ‘self-inflicted incompetence’


SANFL powerhouse Norwood have officially entered the race to become the AFL’s 20th club, according to Channel Seven Adelaide reporter Josh Money.

Speaking on Wednesday evening, Money reported the Redlegs, whose tally of 31 SANFL premierships is second only to Port Adelaide, believe they are the ‘best-placed club’ in the league to follow Tasmania into the competition post-2028, and will use Gather Round to ‘showcase their club on the national stage’.

““While the club is yet to make an official bid to follow the newly-formed Tasmanian side into the league, it’s understood Norwood believes it should be at the front of the queue if and when a 20th AFL license becomes available,” Money reported.

EXCLUSIVE: As Adelaide takes centre stage for Gather Round, 7NEWS can reveal one of the state’s oldest and most successful clubs is preparing an audacious bid to join the AFL. SANFL powerhouse Norwood wants to be the AFL’s 20th team. @joshmoney__ @7AFL #7NEWS

— 7NEWS Adelaide (@7NewsAdelaide) April 3, 2024

“Boasting major South Australian partners including Wolf Blass and Coopers, as well as the SANFL’s highest game attendances and a ground already hosting AFL and AFLW games, Norwood thinks it’s the best-placed club in Australia on and off the field – with a source close to the club telling me, and I quote: ‘if a spot becomes available, look out’.”

Norwood Oval will host two matches for Gather Round, which sees all nine games played at South Australian venues.

It is widely expected the AFL will look to add a 20th team once Tasmania joins the competition, adding an extra game per round to increase the value of their television rights deal while also avoiding the need for at least one team to receive a bye per week.

However, league CEO Andrew Dillon said the AFL isn’t totally wedded to an even-numbers competition, though he conceded the Redlegs are ‘doing great stuff in the SANFL’.

“I think a lot of people like the even numbers, but there’s nothing that says you have to,” Dillon said.

“What we want to do is, if we expand, we do it in a sustainable way.”

Other floated options for the 20th AFL licence include a Northern Territory or Canberra side, as well as a third Western Australian team alongside West Coast and Fremantle.

Norwood players celebrate a goal. (Photo by Sue McKay/Getty Images)

Non-Victorian clubs divided on national reserves comp concept

The four Western Australian and South Australian clubs are divided over abandoning the WAFL and SANFL and joining a new national AFL reserves competition, according to reports.

Port Adelaide have made recent headlines in a bold bit to exit the SANFL and end their 155-year association with the competition, with the Herald Sun‘s Jay Clark claiming on Fox Footy’s Midweek Tackle that the Power believe they are at a ‘developmental disadvantage’ playing in a ‘lesser competition’, with only one opponent – Adelaide – part of the AFL.

The Crows and West Coast both share similar views as a nationwide reserves competition picks up steam, but according to Fox Footy, Fremantle do not share their eagerness to abandon the status quo.

The Dockers have a long-standing relationship with WAFL club Peel Thunder, with a Freo spokesperson saying that arrangement is ‘best for our program’.

“As a club we are very proud of our alignment with Peel Thunder in the WAFL competition,” the spokesperson told Fox Footy.

“We will always review what is best for our players in terms of preparing them for AFL football and as it stands the current arrangement is best for our program.”

The Dockers’ partnership with the Thunder turned the club, which failed to qualify for WAFL finals in their first 18 years of competing after joining in 1997, into a powerhouse.

Making the finals for the first time in 2015, the second year of the arrangement, the club won back-to-back premierships in 2016 and 2017, and finished runner-up in 2023.

Clubs fume as priority pick for Eagles looms despite ‘self-inflicted incompetence’

West Coast are closing in on being granted a priority pick by the AFL as the struggling club’s losses on-field continue to mount, with rival clubs reportedly less than impressed.

Once a powerhouse, the Eagles are winless after three games and last on the ladder, having won the wooden spoon in 2023 and finished second-bottom in 2022.

League rules state that the AFL has sole discretion to award struggling clubs priority draft picks based on its own criteria. North Melbourne were granted a swathe of picks at the end of 2022 and 2023, though were required to trade some, while Gold Coast received picks 1 and 20 among other selections for the 2019 national draft.

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Speaking on Fox Footy’s Midweek Tackle, journalist Jay Clark claimed the Eagles are ‘$1.01’ to be granted a priority pick, with fellow panellist Sam Landsberger claiming other clubs are not thrilled about the notion owing to the club’s relatively recent success, which includes a premiership in 2018.

“Self-inflicted incompetence was what one club said,” Landsberger reported.

“[Their] last two seasons are a disaster, but they’re so far off North Melbourne… only three clubs have won a premiership since West Coast did.”

Andrew Gaff of the Eagles looks dejected after another loss. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The Eagles have won just five of their last 52 matches since late 2021, including a two-win season in 2022 and just three wins in 2023.

They have also lost seven matches in that time by over 100 points, the worst a 171-point thrashing at the hands of Sydney in Round 15 last year.

‘I was dying inside’: Exhausted Cornes’ admission after loss on boxing debut

AFL great turned controversial media pundit Kane Cornes admitted he was ‘dying inside’ after losing his debut boxing fight against fellow former player Nathan Brown.

Having played 300 games for Port Adelaide, Cornes stepped into the ring – copping plenty of boos in the process – for the first time as part of The Gathering fight card in Adelaide, with the stronger and more well-built Brown winning via unanimous decision after four rounds.

The pair are co-panellists on Nine’s The Sunday Footy Show.

Speaking after the fight, Cornes had nothing but praise for the ‘unbelievable’ Brown, while saying stepping out of his comfort zone and boxing for the first time was ‘the most nervous and anxious I’ve ever been’.

“I tried to put on a brave face, but I was dying inside,” he said.

“I’d never really put boxing gloves on until eight weeks ago, so to be able to get in there and still be standing is a win, right?

“It’s the most nervous and anxious I’ve ever been.

“I think I got him a black eye, which I’ll take. But he was unbelievable. He’s clearly the overwhelming winner.”

Nathan Brown landed some shots! ????

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Brown also paid tribute back to Cornes, defending his abrasive and highly critical media personality.

“I know that there’s a lot of people out there that don’t like the way he goes about the media – but I love it. I mean it,” the former Richmond and Western Bulldogs forward said.

“It takes courage to go out there and say what he does; and in in terms of boxing, he puts his chin out there every weekend when he talks about people.

“To be honest, I reckon a lot of people who don’t like him then sit there and go ‘actually, I agree with that, but I’d never say it’.”

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