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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Between the end of the NAB Cup series and the start of Round One on March 24, the AFL held the season launch in Sydney. In between the festivities, League officials met with club captains and coaches to discuss the new rules which were tried out in the preseason. One rule which was high on the agenda was the two substitute-two interchange player rule. It was heavily criticized by a number of players and coaches.

Melbourne ruckman Darren Jolly called it "bloody stupid". Hawthorn Coach Alastair Clarkson labeled it a "ridiculous concept". Sydney Coach John Longmire and Carlton Coach Brett Ratten both felt the rule contributed to the losses their sides had against Geelong in Round One and the Bulldogs in Round Two respectively. They, and Port Adelaide Coach Matthew Primus, said they noticed a significant drop in players' energy as games wore on. Primus said some his players were "out on their feet" against West Coast due to the limited rotations. In the case of the Round One three-match series between Sydney, St Kilda and Geelong, the temperature was close to 95 degrees. In the past, during the early rounds of the preseason games teams were allowed up to six interchange players when temperatures soared.

Hawthorn Captain Luke Hodge echoed the sentiments of several coaches in saying that the two-two rule also limited clubs as far as the amount of game time they could give new players during the preseason. Some believe this limitation could hamper their development, not only because of limited game time but also the extra workload on young bodies. Collingwood Captain Nick Maxwell was another who voiced this concern. Another concern, voiced by St. Kilda Coach Scott Watters and Sydney's Jude Bolton, is the ability to manage players during the preseason, especially those returning from injury. Bolton, a Players Association representative, used the example of retired teammate Michael O'Loughlin who was always carefully managed and monitored during the preseason. Primus said the new rule made it difficult to maintain the "forward press" tactic in which one team sends extra players into the opposition forward line to put extra pressure on the forwards.

Greater Western Sydney Coach Kevin Sheedy would prefer a four-player interchange with a limit on rotations and no substitute. Former Kangaroo defender Glenn Archer believes there should be at least a two-year moratorium on the introduction of new rules. Archer, who described himself as a traditionalist, believes there is too much tinkering with the rules. The AFL has opted to continue with the three-one bench rule for 2012.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, Herald Sun, afl.com.au, sportal.com.au, adelaidenow.com.au

Article last changed on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 9:04 PM EDT


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