SUNS General Manager of Player Talent and Strategy Craig Cameron believes this year’s Continental Tyres Trade Period will be a unique one.
Unlike previous years, Cameron predicts this trade period will have an extra form of currency as clubs look to manage their salary cap due to reductions enforced by the AFL over the last 12 months.
Speaking exclusively to SUNS Media, Cameron said clubs would need to be flexible at the trade table to ensure they are able to fit within the salary cap while also strengthening their lists and draft hands.
“This trade period is an interesting one – generally you go into a trade period and there is probably two bits of currency and that is players or draft selections,” Cameron said.
“But given the reduction in the 2021 TPP (total player payments) and the deferrals that came from that for clubs to manage that process, it looks like TPP relief will also be a currency in this year’s draft.
“There’s a lot of clubs that are tight and then there’s clubs that have got TPP space so I think they’ll be offering up the ability to take some players for draft picks going their way as well.
“So it will be interesting to see how that all plays out.”
The SUNS are currently one of the most heavily contracted clubs in the competition with a continual buy-in from the playing group over the last few years.
It means Cameron and his team will need to get creative in order to free up primary list positions ahead of the NAB AFL Draft.
“We’re fairly heavily contracted, we made a decision three years ago as we built this list that we wanted to contract our players in advance and consolidate the list so we’re in that position now,” Cameron said.
“We’ve got 38 players contracted at the moment and a few more on the rookie list who are also contracted.
“Coming into this trade period we’ll probably have some players that are looking for opportunity elsewhere that we’ll talk to clubs about.
“We’ll also have to get a little bit creative in how we move some players to the rookie list off our primary list to give us probably three selections in the draft.”
One of the areas the club is looking to bolster is the ruck/key forward position.
The SUNS were cruelled by injury in this department in 2021, with co-captain and primary ruck Jarrod Witts, back-up rucks Zac Smith and Matt Conroy and key forward Sam Day all succumbing to knee injuries at the beginning of the season.
The club was able to recruit promising young ruck Ned Moyle in the 2021 NAB AFL Pre-Season Draft, but he is viewed as a developing long-term prospect.
Instead the SUNS hope to add depth to that position through free agency, with Cameron saying the club would lodge paperwork for Richmond unrestricted free agent Mabior Chol.
He said if the club could fill that need, while also strengthening its future draft hand and freeing up salary cap space, it would be considered a successful trade period.
“If we can acquire Mabior as we expect we will this Friday (that will) take care of that forward/ruck position,” Cameron said.
“If we can maintain our early draft selection and take a quality player in the draft (that will be important).
“The other thing is we will take a minimum number of selections (in this year’s draft) so the important thing for us will then be to maintain or improve on our draft collateral in future years, and make sure that we have taken care of some of the deferrals that we had to do last year.
“(If we can do all that) then that would be a successful trade period for us.
“It’s going to be important for us to look at the end of the trade period and the overall result rather than each trade as it comes.”
The club possesses plenty of draft currency ahead of the Continental Tyres Trade Period, currently holding selections 3, 19, 22, 43, 55, 58 and 66.