AFL Draft 2022: Were Sydney and the Western Bulldogs showing signs of spite?


Were Sydney and the Western Bulldogs showing signs of spite? Or was it smart draft management?

Night one of the 2022 AFL Draft is complete as 21 prospects found new clubs.

Unsurprisingly, GWS scooped up key forward Aaron Cadman with the first pick of the evening, while Will Ashcroft and Jaspa Fletcher made their way to Brisbane as father-sons.

Harry Sheezel and George Wardlaw joined North Melbourne while Elijah Tsatas found himself at Essendon.

Bailey Humphrey was snatched up by Gold Coast and Jhye Clark will stay put in Geelong.

Despite most of the night going to plan, there were a few instances that raised the eyebrows of fans.

Entering pick 12, the Western Bulldogs were tipped to take young key defender Jedd Busslinger from Western Australia.

Prior to doing so, they made the Lions ‘pony up’ for Fletcher, bidding on the father-son prospect and forcing their hand.

In a strange move from Luke Beveridge and his coaching team, did this have something to do with the Josh Dunkley trade?

Dunkley recently joined Brisbane along with future third and fourth round picks, while the Dogs received pick 21 and future first, second and fourth round selections.

Although we cannot be sure if the Bulldogs were doing this out of spite, the move to bid on Fletcher didn’t make a lot of sense, hinting at some residual feeling for losing their 2022 best-and-fairest winner.

Nevertheless, the Dogs got their man (Busslinger) as did the Lions, but for a lot more than they anticipated.

Only a few picks later, Sydney had the difficult task of selecting at pick 16.

In such an even draft, the Swans took most of their allotted time before bidding on GWS Academy player Harry Rowston.

The Giants had the following pick in the draft and were hoping not to use their second selection after pick one on Rowston, instead a second or third rounder.

However, their cross-town rivals coerced their hand and essentially took a first-round pick away from the Giants.

GWS recruiter Adrian Caruso pledged the club wasn’t troubled by Sydney’s move.

“Not at all (were they more disgruntled it was Sydney). Clubs are doing what’s in the best interest for them, I don’t think the Swans owe us anything,” Caruso said.

“It is what it is. We’re more looking at what’s our overall draft hand and we don’t feel like it’s affected us at the moment.

“We planned for the scenario and ultimately it hasn’t affected us too much.”

The Swans weren’t done there as they bid on Adelaide father-son, Max Michalanney.

Matthew Nicks and the Crows were hopeful he’d slip to the second round, but Sydney recruiter Kinnear Beatson opted to test the South Australian side.

Adelaide matched the bid and got Michalanney at pick 17.

The Swans and Crows have crossed paths in recent times as Jordan Dawson made the move to South Australia from Sydney.

The rebounding defender was taken with pick 56 in the 2015 draft by Sydney but wanted to return to his home state.

Dawson’s season at Adelaide was nothing short of impressive, including a second-placed finish in the bnf (behind Rory Laird) and perhaps Sydney wanted some respite on top of the future first-round pick they received in the 2021 trade period.

Ironically, the Swans traded out their then-pick 18 to Hawthorn in return for pick 27 and a future second and third rounder.

Talent guru Mick Ablett believes Sydney’s move is a great example of the modern trading landscape.

“It’s amazing the impact a club can have in the modern way of trading and bidding on players,” Ablett said.

“They haven’t made a selection yet, but they’ve significantly changed the outcome of the first round of the draft. They’ve affected ongoing picks of the GWS Giants and the Adelaide Crows.

So they’re making some very calculated moves and ensuring that clubs pay what they should for the quality of player they are.”

As we’ve seen on night one of the 2022 AFL Draft, the next few nights will be followed with plenty of intrigue.

The remaining rounds from the National Draft will occur on Tuesday evening, while the Rookie Draft will take place on Wednesday. 

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