The Southern Saints will be most affected by changes to the Retained Players list for the upcoming 2018 AFL New Zealand Premiership.
With the inclusion of the RPL Category 2 in the Retained Players List criteria for the upcoming 2018 season, each Premiership side will be able to retain up to three players that are Auckland based who have represented New Zealand at senior level in the past 12 months.
Premiers in 2017, the Saints currently have six Auckland based NZ Representatives from their 2017 squad, including Captain Michael Boyce, 2017 Premiership player of the year Andriu Sucu and fellow New Zealand team mates Samuel McKenzie, Josh Cunliffe, Carlos Donnell-Brown and Ben Hick.
To add to the contest for retained positions within the Saints squad, key defender Harison Manks will also be moved into the category following the completion of studies in Wellington and now residing in Auckland.
It will be a tough decision for the coaching staff on exactly who will be retained and who will have to re-enter into the AFL New Zealand Premiership National Draft scheduled to take place in late November.
The category has been introduced to ensure teams are not disadvantaged from the changing circumstances of the players squads due to location, studies, work and health considerations.
The RPL Category 2 rule states that if a Premiership side cannot supply the required amount of representatives from the 2017 season, a Priority Draft Pick will be allocated at the National Draft to rectify this.
The Central Giants are set to benefit from this new rule having only one representative in Captain David Rattenbury who represented New Zealand during International Cup in August and the ANZAC Campaign earlier in April 2017.
The Giants are already guaranteed the allocation of a minimum of two priority picks in this year’s National Draft. Coaching and leadership opportunities at the Central Giants could be a determining factor in player discussions in the lead up to finalisation of the Retain Player Lists for 2018.
The 2018 AFL New Zealand Premiership will contain the following categories within the Retained Player list.
RPL Category 1: Retention of Auckland based players who have not played for the New Zealand Senior team over the past 12 months. (Up to 7 players to be retained)
RPL Category 2: Retention of Auckland based New Zealand Senior Representatives. (Up to 3 players to be retained)
If a team cannot supply this amount of representatives from the 2017 season, a priority draft pick will be allocated at the National Draft to rectify this.
RPL Category 3: Retention of Regionally based players (Christchurch/ Dunedin/ Wellington) who have not played for the New Zealand Senior team over the past 12 months. (Up to 4 players to be retained)
RPL Category 4: Retention of Regionally based New Zealand Representative (Christchurch/ Dunedin/ Wellington) (Up to 1 player to be retained). If a team does not have 1 NZ Regional Rep from the 2017 season, a priority draft pick will be allocated at the National Draft to rectify this.