The AFL has issued Hume, Riverina and Farrer league clubs with a stern warning in regards to the recruitment of Ovens and Murray players during the league's enforced two week layoff.
Several O&M players played in the Riverina and Farrer league competitions over the weekend after the O&M put its season on hold for the next fortnight in the wake of the snap lockdown announced in Victoria last Thursday.
It is feared a similar situation could occur in the Hume league this week with the competition set to resume after a general bye last weekend.
Albury stars Jacob and Lucas Conlan alongside siblings Adam and Lachie Flagg were just some of the O&M players to switch leagues last Saturday.
Community Football Regional Manager ACT & Regional NSW Marc Geppert said clubs had been sent an email this week to be mindful of their motives for recruiting O&M players.
"We are not telling clubs that they can't sign O&M players," Geppert said.
"What we are asking clubs is to be mindful of the impacts it could have if they choose to go down that path.
"For instance it would be disappointing to hear of a local player who has done all the pre-season being dropped to make way for an O&M player.
"It all comes down to the sustainability and viability of clubs in the long term.
"If clubs are genuinely struggling for numbers, that's a different story."
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Another potential issue is clubs still in finals contention could be tempted to recruit an O&M player or two to bolster its chances of securing a vital four points.
"You would question a club's motive to recruit an O&M player who hasn't previously had an affiliation with the club," he said.
"The Conlan boys went to Griffith from Albury and we haven't got an issue with that because they previously played at Griffith.
"But what we don't want to see is O&M players joining a club just because they need the four points.
"Clubs need to be mindful of the short-term gain versus the long-time pain in regards to recruiting."
Geppert said he could understand why O&M players wanted to switch leagues.
"Players just want to play football," he said.
"There is nothing in the rules until June 30 to stop players from switching clubs.
"But is it in the spirit of the game? That's probably the grey area."
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