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2024 Rule Changes

Maynard Gets His kick Away

The AFL has announced the annual rule changes for the 2024 season, primarily focusing on player protection. The new rule interpretations cover smothering kicks and run-down tackles, both of which can risk player injury. Two incidents in 2023 led to these changes. Collingwood defender Brayden Maynard leaped into the air to attempt a smother against Demon Angus Brayshaw. Maynard collided with Brayshaw who suffered a concussion as a result of the collision. Maynard faced the tribunal but avoided suspension. Maynard’s exoneration was applauded by some sections of the football community who argued he had done nothing wrong, but the AFL flagged a review. The new rule states in part, "If a player leaves the ground in an attempt to smother, it will be deemed careless conduct at a minimum, “unless the player has taken all reasonable steps to avoid that high contact and/or minimize the force of that high contact (for example, by adopting a body position that minimizes the force of the high contact. The incident can be viewed on YouTube

While the AFL doesn’t want to end the run-down tackle,

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Collingwood Delistings and Free Agents Moves

Flynn tackled (Dave Woodley/AFANA)

Collingwood delisted Trey Ruscoe, Trent Bianco, Tom Wilson, Arlo Draper, and Cooper Murley. Sydney picked up unrestricted free agent James Jordon and West Coast added unrestricted free agent Matt Flynn.

Ruckman Flynn has joined West Coast from Greater Western Sydney. Flynn, 26, was drafted by GWS in 2015 and played 33 games. The Eagles believe will add size with the retirement of Nic Naitanui. List manager Rohan O'Brien said, “We prioritized adding to our ruck stocks this off-season so we’re really pleased Matt decided to join the club ... Matt has spent eight seasons in the AFL system and is physically mature so we expect he can come in and make an impact.”

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Adem Yze Named Tigers Coach

Richmond announced that Adem Yze would be their new senior coach at the end of preliminary finals week. Yze, 46. began as an assistant at Hawthorn under Alastair Clarkson. He was there for the three premierships the Hawks won in 2013, 2014, and 2015. He returned to the Demons, where he played 271 games, in late 2020 and was again involved in a premiership when Melbourne won in 2021. Of his appointment, Yze said, “This is a club steeped in history and blessed with a magnificent supporter base. I feel very humbled to have been given this opportunity, ... ".

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Adelaide and Port Adelade Delist Players and Two More Retire

Luke Dunstan (file photo/AFANA)

Adelaide delisted McPherson, Jackson Hately, Tariek Newchurch, and Tyler Brown while Port Adelaide delisted Riley Bonner, Trent Dumont, Brynn Teakle, and Nathan Barkla. Luke Dunstan retired from Melbourne and Gold Coast saw Connor Blakely hang up the boots.

McPherson played 28 AFL games since being drafted in 2017. He had to overcome a series of soft tissue injuries and played nine games. He won both the Mark Bickley Emerging Talent Award and Brian Sando OAM Award for professionalism on Club Champion night. The hard-working defender was a regular in Adelaide’s senior side in 2021 when he played 18 games, however injuries have restricted him to just one AFL game since then. Hately has also played 28 AFL games including 15 with the Crows after he joined Adelaide from GWS at the end of the 2020. He played 11 games in 2021 and one this year while performing strongly in the SANFL. Newchurch joined Adelaide as a Category B rookie from its Next Generation Academy in 2020 and has been a valuable contributor to the Crows’ SANFL side for the past three seasons, as has Tyler Brown who joined the club as a rookie in January and played one AFL game for the Crows to go with 27 at his former club Collingwood.

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Footy World Mourns Ron Barassi

Ron Barassi (file photo/AFANA)

The semi-finals weekend was bittersweet, not only for the teams which were eliminated but for the sad news of the passing of the legendary great Ron Barassi. Ron Barassi was 87 and suffered complications from a fall. Tributes from the AFL and the four clubs with which he was involved poured in. His story is well-chronicled, from the time he went to live with Melbourne coach Norm Smith after his father was killed in World War II to his recruitment to the Melbourne Demons, his shock move to Carlton, and his coaching career at Carton, North Melbourne, and Sydney. He was actually retired when he was coaxed to take over at the Swans after their move from Melbourne to Sydney. He coached the Swans from 1993 through 1995 (59 games). He was a board member for seven more seasons.

Sydney chairman Andrew Pridham said the AFL has lost a pioneer, "The Sydney Swans are saddened by the passing of one of the game's all-time greats, Ron Barassi. Ron was a wonderful person and had a huge influence on the Swans, for which we are forever grateful ... ".

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Hibberd Retires from Melbourne and Eagles Cull Six

Hibberd Handballs (File photo/AFANA)

Demon defender Michael Hibberd, 33, announced his retirement after 12 seasons and 197 for Essendon and Melbourne. The West Coast Eagles have delisted defender Luke Foley, Xavier O’Neill, Greg Clark, Connor West, forward Isiah Winder, and utility player Sam Petrevski-Seton.

In making the retirement announcement, Hibberd said, “I have really loved my time at the club. I love the boys and I feel like I could play until I am 40, but I know that’s not the reality. The body gets a bit slower as you get older, and although I like to think that I have a little bit left in me, I feel like going out with a little left in the tank is the right way to go about it ... ".

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Blues Snatch Semi Win in Final Minute

Blake Acres (file photo)

The first Semi-Final at the MCG started tonight with the stadium fuller than it has than it has been in many years, outside of a Grand Final. Max Gawn won the first tap, Carlton the first clearance and inside 50, Melbourne the first 50 clearance. All standard stuff. It was going to be tough night for players and spectators alike, but not all would be predictable.

Charlie Curnow looked to be on song early marking outside 50 for the Blues and his long kick at goal before the defenders could get back was only a degree off being six points. At the other end Charlie Spargo, coming into the side tonight, kicked the first score for the Dees. Advantage was paid to Langdon who kicked the first goal of the match after Kosi Pickett was taken out of the contest, unusually by the furthest umpire from the contest.

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Demons Burn Wounded Eagles

Petracca Handballs (D Woodley / AFANA)

The Melbourne Demons hit the West Coast Eagles with a scorching third quarter, using their big-bodied midfielders to tackle and pressure the younger Eagles out of the game. The Eagles were forced to make seven team changes due the injury carnage sustained against Fremantle the week before; and their inexperienced replacements gave it everything they could - and more - until half time. Harassment from the willing Eagles at the fall of the ball worried the Demons out of their usual game style early in the match.

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AFL Facing Concussion Class Action Lawsuit

Picken Kicks a Goal (file photo)

In mid-March, Melbourne law firm Margalit Injury Lawyers filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of over 60 former players, seeking compensation for the concussions they suffered during their careers and the resultant post-concussion issues they have suffered since. The players include former premiership player Max Rooke (Geelong), Shaun Smith (Melbourne), Liam Picken (Western Bulldogs) and Darren Jarman (Adelaide and Hawthorn). The widow of the late Shane Tuck has also signed on in the suit. Smith previously won a million dollar plus insurance payout due the concussions he suffered.

Outside the court, the firm's leading lawyer Michel Margalit said the firm was seeking about AUD$ 2 million (US$1.35 million) plus medical expenses per player. Margalit said it could cost the AFL close to 1 billion $AUD (US$666 million).She said it was not about "bringing down the AFL", but getting the compensation for the players, Rooke played 135 games for the Cats 2001-2010 and is the lead plaintiff. He, like many of the others sustained permanent and life-altering injuries as a result of concussion-related injuries and because of the AFL’s negligence. Margalit said, “Their careers are finished and years later they find these concussion-related injuries creeping in and affecting their ability to work, their ability to have a happy family life."

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Supplemental Signings

Anderson against Port Adelaide

The Supplemental Signing Period (SSP) started several months ago and ended February 15. It allows clubs with available spots to sign players as rookies. Below are the clubs and the players they signed.

ADELAIDE

The Adelaide Crows had two spots open on their list with Fischer McAsey and Paul Seedsman both being placed on the inactive list for the 2023 season. They signed former Collingwood midfielder Tyler Brown as a rookie for this season. Brown has signed a one year deal. Brown is the son of former Magpie premiership player Gavin and played 27 games for Collingwood before being delisted at the end of 2022. He had battled illness and injury in stint with the Pies.

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