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AFL trades 2018: Talented SA draft prospects could be crucial Lachie Neale negotiations

Three undrafted South Australian teenagers could inadvertently prove the circuit-breakers in negotiations over Fremantle midfielder Lachie Neale.

Both Adelaide clubs are frantically trying to improve their chances of recruiting highly-touted locals Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine and Connor Rozee.

The trio are widely expected to be drafted inside the first eight selections and have attracted enough interest from interstate to worry their hometown clubs.

Lukosius, a languid tall forward in the mould of three-time premiership Hawk Jack Gunston, was an early favourite for pick No.1 before Carlton took a fancy to on-baller Sam Walsh.

Half-forward Rankine’s explosiveness is unrivalled among this year’s draft crop while Rozee might be the best pure midfielder available.

Port Adelaide ‘strengthened’ their draft hand on Thursday morning, sending picks 11, 23, 30 and 49 to the Dockers in exchange for pick No.6 and a future third-round selection.

On paper, the exchange makes little sense considering Fremantle emerges with a net gain equivalent to pick No.20-21, according to the AFL Draft Value Index.

Such is the quality of Lukosius, Rankine and Rozee, it was a sacrifice Chris Davies and his team were willing to make.

Reports of a similar move by Adelaide have been floated which would see the Crows land pick No.5 and hand Brisbane picks No.8 and 16.

The Lions – who would also want hefty compensation for Dayne Beams should he officially request a trade to Collingwood – would then have more to offer Fremantle for Neale.

In the case that Fremantle accepts a deal involving both of Brisbane’s newly acquired selections, Steve Rosich and Peter Bell would have picks 8, 11, 16, 23, 30 and 49 at their disposal.

A more likely outcome would see Brisbane bundle their first selection with a less valuable second-round selection, rather than compromising their draft position altogether.

In both scenarios, Fremantle walk away in a far more flexible position in negotiations for Rory Lobb and Jesse Hogan. And with two key pillars on their books, the Dockers go some way towards resolving a longstanding issue with their forward structure.

It’s impossible to know exactly how these hypothetical situations could play out.

What can’t be debated is the fact Lukosius, Rankine and Rozee are already having an impact on the 2018 trade period.

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