A NUMBER of 17-year-olds will be able to take to the field in the upcoming NAB AFLW season.
A quirk of the shifted season start date (early December) means a handful of players will be able to play before their 18th birthday.
To be eligible for the 2021 NAB AFLW Draft, players had to turn 18 by or on December 31, with first-round duo Ella Friend (St Kilda, pick No.4) and Zali Friswell (Geelong, pick No.7) just scraping in with birthdays on December 30.
DECEMBER BIRTHDAY DRAFTEES
- Ella Friend (St Kilda, pick No.4)
- Zali Friswell (Geelong, pick No.7)
- Tess Craven (North Melbourne, pick No.13)
- Beth Schilling (West Coast, pick No.24)
- Aurora Smith (Western Bulldogs, pick No.25)
- Tahlia Gillard (Melbourne, pick No.40)
- Georgina Fowler (GWS, pick No.57)
The AFL has also confirmed rules around training loads for players who are completing year 12.
In seasons past, players were generally in the final weeks of exams when pre-season got underway, but with the dreaded first time trial back set to be held in September, some draftees still have several months of schooling ahead.
YOUR CLUB'S AFLW DRAFT Surprises, sliders among 59 draftees
With AFLW training traditionally held in the evening to allow for players' work commitments, those still at school will attend one training session a week.
They are allowed to attend a second optional session if they wish, and can return to full training once they complete their exams.