This morning’s AFL pre-season draft failed to deliver many surprises, with most major media outlets predicting a high-proportion of the player movements well before the eight participating clubs called out their respective player selections.

As was expected, Carlton took former Saint ruckman Cain Ackland with the number one pick, while Essendon followed through with its controversial selection of highly decorated – if ageing – Brisbane full-back Mal Michael with the second selection of the draft.

The Blues, the only club to have two selections in the pre-season draft, effectively swapped ruckmen with Collingwood, with Cameron Cloke set to don the navy blue next year, while Chris Bryan heads off the Lexus Centre.

Of the nine players chosen, seven have AFL experience, with the Kangaroos bucking the trend by taking former Gippsland wingman-cum-forward Ben Ross at selection three, and Port Adelaide opting for raw Norwood key forward Adam Cockshell with the number five selection.

Of the other picks, Kent Kingsley found a new home at Richmond as expected, Hawthorn re-drafted injury-plagued utility Josh Thurgood and St Kilda confirmed its determination to find a seasoned ruckman by taking ex-Brisbane and Adelaide bigman Matthew Clarke.

Perhaps the story of the draft period as a whole was the fact that only eight players with senior AFL experience found their way to new clubs via the national and pre-season drafts. Of these, four were ruckmen, with all four headed to Melbourne-based clubs.

Among the high profile names to be overlooked were Collingwood’s Jason Cloke, Brisbane Premiership ruckman Clark Keating and St Kilda’s Troy Schwarze.

The rookie-draft, held immediately after the pre-season draft, offered better news for former AFL-listed players, with 18 2006-listed players either finding new homes, or being re-drafted by their original clubs.

Peter Fray

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