Peel Thunder welcomes changes to WAFL finals eligibility rules

Peel Thunder celebrate after earning a spot in the WAFL Grand Final. Picture: Theron Kirkman
Peel Thunder celebrate after earning a spot in the WAFL Grand Final. Picture: Theron Kirkman

PEEL Thunder will be affected by changes in finals eligibility of players for the WAFL.

Peel Thunder chief executive John Ditchburn said the changes were a positive move for local players.

“Now they have as much opportunity to play finals footy as any other club,” he said.

“More younger players will be able to play in the finals.

“If the new rules applied this year, we would have had 11 from Fremantle playing and 11 original Peel Thunder players in the grand final.”

The West Australian Football Commission announced changes to ensure that it remains the premier state league competition in the country.

The changes were the result of an in-depth analysis of four years of data (2014-2017) under the AFL Partner Club model and extensive consultation with all nine WAFL clubs, the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Football Club.

Four key changes will be made for the 2018 season including: the five-game minimum qualification must be league matches; the introduction of a minimum three WAFL league matches post June 30 requirement; an adjustment of the AFL-listed player cap in finals matches down from 15 to 12; and the ability for AFL clubs to submit special requests to the WAFC for young emerging players or players returning from injury to participate in the WAFL Finals when not qualified in accordance with the rules above.

The rule changes only applies when the AFL club is eliminated or not participating in an AFL final on the same weekend as the partner club.

WAFC chief executive Gavin Taylor said the annual rules and regulations review process was an important part of delivering a high standard, competitive and sustainable WAFL.

“We want to ensure that there is a close and competitive finals series, with consistency between team make-up in the home and away season and the finals,” he said. “We’re confident these changes will help us deliver that.

“The decision to reduce the AFL-listed player cap to 12 was based on four years of data that showed each WAFL partner club had averaged 12 AFL players in the home and away matches.

“Capping it at 12 delivers the consistency we are looking for as well as providing three opportunities for a local player at a partner club to participate in the WAFL finals series.”

Taylor said it was crucial local players at a WAFL partner club were given the best opportunities to continue their pathway at their club.

“The second half of the season qualification ensures that players who are elevated to the AFL competition and compete consistently in the AFL through the back half of the season are ineligible and in turn, provides local players the opportunity to continue to develop and play finals football,” he said.

Mr Taylor said it was imperative the rules and regulations of the WAFL competition were continually reviewed.

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