The Rookie List
is a means for Australian Football League
clubs to maintain additional players outside of the 38-man primary or senior list. Rookie listed players are not eligibile to play in AFL home and away or finals matches unless they are elevated to the senior list, either to replace a retired player or a player with a long-term injury.
In order to be eligible to be selected to the rookie list, players must be registered with a club that is affiliated with the AFL
, nominate themselves for the AFL Draft
and be between 18 and 23 years of age. The vast majority of the players selected are recruited from clubs in the major underage league, the TAC Cup
, or the major state senior leagues (the VFL
). Delisted players from other AFL clubs are also often selected and are referred to as recycled players. Re-drafting delisted players from the same club is also common due the requirement to either elevate or delist all rookie listed players after two years on the rookie list.
Since 2006 each team was also allowed to select one player older than 23, providing they have not been on a primary or rookie list previously. One notable exception to this is the case of Adam Ramanauskas at Essendon. Special dispensation was granted to allow the club to place the 26-year-old Ramanauskas, who had played over 100 AFL games, on the list due to his ongoing fight against cancer.
Rookies are usually placed on the list via the Rookie Draft
, which occurs annually during the off-season, immediately after the Pre-Season Draft
. However, to encourage investment in local players, Brisbane
are additionally allowed to recruit eligible rookies who have resided for at least three years in Queensland
or New South Wales
and the Australian Capital Territory
Each club is allowed to maintain a list of up to six eligible players, whilst Brisbane and Sydney can list a maximum of nine. Up to three rookies can be retained, with the players permission for a second or third season, with the others having to be either delisted or elevated to the primary list at the time of the National Draft
Only half of the salary paid by a club to players on the rookie list counts towards the league's salary cap, and in general they cannot be selected to play. However, any club that has fewer than two veterans outside of its primary list can nominate two rookies to be available for normal selection. In addition, teams can promote a rookie temporarily to replace a senior player who has been moved to the long-term injury list.
From 2006 onwards, clubs have been additionally allowed to sign up to two international rookies each year. The total number is limited to a maximum of six players at any one time, and payments do not count towards the salary cap. Players may remain international rookies for three years, instead of the usual two.
In order to be eligible players must be aged between 15 and 23, and cannot be Australian citizens. Additionally, in order to protect the AFL's relationship with the Gaelic Athletic Association, Irish players do not qualify, and as such most be signed to either a club's primary or rookie list.
In 2008, the AFL increased the international rookie list for clubs to eight per year and a total of up to twenty four players at any one time. Scholarship costs were also reduced from AUD10,000 to AUD1,000 for players who remain in their country of origin during their development and AUD20,000 for players who are moved (such as to Australia) to continue their development.