Canberra Demons recruits will be free to return to their home clubs in AFL Riverina during their first season in the NEAFL under a new rule set to be passed.
AFL Riverina, Hume League, AFL Canberra and the NEAFL are in the process of signing off on a brand new NEAFL Player Interchange Agreement for the 2020 season.
The new agreement will allow first-year Canberra Demons players from Riverina, Farrer and Hume Leagues to return to their home club when free of NEAFL commitments.
The rule, for example, will allow recently-signed Canberra Demons recruit George Kendall to play with Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes when not selected for NEAFL duties.
In the past, Kendall would have lined up for either Gungahlin or Tuggeranong, like Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong's Riley Corbett did on occasions this year.
Southern NSW AFL community football manager Paul Habel has endorsed the agreement.
"There has been a review of the policy and a bit of discussion around players, especially first year players that make the move to Canberra for university, jobs or get recruited," Habel said.
"The first year is often the hardest year when you're trying to readjust to the higher level of footy. You might not get the opportunity to play at that NEAFL level every week.
"This will allow them to go back to their home clubs again, which I think is a good thing."
Habel believes the new agreement makes sense for Riverina, Farrer and Hume Leagues.
"I think so, there is a similar type approach in the VFL," Habel said.
"In the VFL they are allowed to nominate a club of origin and they are allowed to come back and play if not picked.
"For a first year player, going into a new environment, you might not get regular football at that NEAFL level."
Canberra Demons general manager Shaun Young believes the Riverina part of the proposal will prove beneficial to all parties.
"From our prospective, with what's been proposed by Canberra Demons, Canberra Demons view Riverina, Hume and Farrer Leagues as part of our pathway opportunity and connected to Canberra Demons. We view them as part of our region," Young said.
"Through the process with what we're working on with the AFL is to implement a pathway where players from Riverina, Hume and Farrer have the ability to, in their first year with Canberra Demons, go back to their home clubs where they came from.
"It provides an opportunity for players that still want to have a connection to their local club to do so and George Kendall is the perfect example of that."
Young would love to see the rule develop beyond first-year players to a level the VFL now has in place.
Habel said the agreement is a 'work in progress with the opportunity for negotiations going forward'.
Those first-year players will be eligible for finals in both competitions, pending they play the required games to qualify.
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