HDFNL chairman confident of avoiding player exodus

By Brayden May

HEATHCOTE District Football Netball League chairman Peter Cole believes there will not be a mass exodus of players from the competition, even if other leagues go ahead in 2020.

The HDFNL board elected to cancel the season on May 21, the first in Victoria to do so.

Since then, there have been rumours to suggest that rival competitions may look to poach the HDFNL’s best players with AFL Victoria’s clearance deadline remaining open until June 30.

But Cole said he would be shocked if there was any major player movement in the coming weeks.

“We’ve only had one clearance registered since we made the decision and that’s because the player was moving to Queensland,” Cole said.

“If leagues do go ahead, recruiting will become extremely hard because there will be a reduced salary cap and points allocations will be close to full already.

“I’ve spoken to all our clubs and a lot of them have already had commitments from their players for next year.

“We’re also seeing that individual’s interest levels are dropping away, so much that some competitions have suggested they could go ahead with senior games only, which doesn’t seem viable.

“I’m expecting more leagues to make the same decision as the HDFNL so player retention shouldn’t become much of a problem.”

Despite Cole’s confidence, Lockington-Bamawm United coach Kahl Oliver admitted he was worried when the league first made its decision, but those concerns had now eased.

“There is still a possibility of player movement, but it is up to the individual,” he said.

“If we were to lose some players, we’re confident they would come back to the club in 2021.”

Oliver said his confidence came down to the club’s strong recruiting drive of the last two years, which had many tipping the Cats to win the premiership in 2020 before the season was cancelled.

“Our goal has always been for our playing group to win the flag as mates and they haven’t done that yet,” he said.

“There was obviously disappointment when the season got called off, but it only makes us hungrier.

“We’ve got a strong connection as a club and that’s going to help us through these strange times.”

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