The AFL has moved to end the stoush over Greater Western Sydney’s academy entitlements – for this year at least.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan confirmed on Friday morning that the league has no plans to review GWS’s zone or the sport’s academy rules.
“Things always have the potential to be reviewed … the Riverina zone for the Giants is not being reviewed this year,” McLachlan told ABC Radio on Friday.
There has been heated debate this week over GWS’s access to talent from the Riverina, on the NSW-Victorian border, with Collingwood president Eddie McGuire the most vocal of critics.
His GWS counterpart Tony Shepherd threatened to resign in response, while Sydney chairman Andrew Pridham had to apologise on Friday for having confused comments from McGuire about the salary cap troubles at NRL club Parramatta with the GWS situation.
“My question re Eddie’s salary cap comment was based on audio provided to me and noted I had not heard entire segment and still have not,” Pridham tweeted.
“I now understand Eddie’s comment related to Parramatta. Withdraw comment and apologise unreservedly on that point.”
McGuire had detailed his disgust on Triple M about the way Pridham “defamed and tried to publicly humiliate” the long-time Magpies figurehead.
As the public slanging continued, McLachlan looked to clear up any confusion about the issue.
“There is not anything new going on at our place this week as opposed to last week,” he said.
“Everyone needs to not panic and understand that we’re getting talent out of zones we haven’t had before.
“The thing’s got a head of steam up this week that I think is just a bit emotive.”
AFL rules dictate a club can draft players from its academy at a 20 per cent discount, with the Giants laying claim to the area that produced Wayne Carey and other modern greats.
Reacting to the Giants’ 75-point dismissal of reigning premiers Hawthorn, McGuire called on McLachlan to act quickly.
“Otherwise you’ll completely throw the competition out of kilter for the best part of 10 years,” he opined.
Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge felt discussion about the issue was disrespectful of the Giants’ recent development.
“It’s disappointing we don’t recognise the great job that they’re doing at the moment. They’ve lost some players (to other clubs and to injury),” Beveridge said.