Sub rule means players can no longer just ‘tag’
The AFL first introduced the sub-rule into the season proper in 2011 to “lower the injury rate.”
It later admitted the three-and-one interchange system was brought in to achieve three outcomes: slow the game down to reduce the number of injuries; reduce congestion around the ball; and to make the game fairer.
Long kicking is up, contested marking is up and the sub is an exciting and unpredictable element, which can have a match winning impact.
Essendon’s Nathan Lovett-Murray came on in the last quarter against Richmond in round eight collecting six possessions, three tackles and broke a scoring drought with an important goal in setting up victory.
Brisbane’s Josh Green scored three goals from his four kicks to help lift the Lions to a dramatic victory over West Coast in round 10.
Andrejs Everitt’s last quarter gained him six possessions, three marks and a goal in the dying seconds on Friday night, which buried Geelong.
The media is becoming obsessed with the “super-sub” tag.
As a result of the rule, I believe the days of the one-dimensional tagger are numbered. Having one less player to configure into rotations and the need for another tall to provide a chop out in the ruck or height match-up at either end, means teams can no longer carry a ‘pure’ tagger.
That is the bloke who just goes out to niggle, negate and frustrate an opposition player without much intention of hurting that team offensively. I can’t see teams being a genuine premiership threat unless the whole 22 are there to win the ball and outscore their opposition.
Since the sub rule was introduced, Carlton’s prime taggers Andrew Carrazzo and David Ellard have ramped up their offensive output significantly. Carrazzo’s champion data average has gone from 78 points per game in 2010 to 93 in 2012. Ellard’s from 67 to 92. The undefeated Blues were premiership favourite before their shock loss to the Bombers in round 4 and have suffered a string of injuries to key players since.
West Coast’s rising midfielder Scott Selwood made a name for himself as a tagger in 2010, however his champion data average has risen from 64 points to113 in 2012.
Since 2010 Essendon’s Ben Howlett (74 points), Western Bulldogs Liam Picken (64) and Geelong’s Taylor Hunt (54), have increased their averages to 88, 73 and 66 respectively.
Combining the ability to curb an opposition star such as Ablett, Pendlebury, Judd or Goodes, as well as win your own ball and hurt their team going forward with inside 50s or even goals, may be more critical in deciding victory than the “super-sub”.
Fearless taggers such as Essendon’s Heath Hocking (61 points in 2012), St Kilda’s Clinton Jones (73) and Richmond’s Daniel Jackson (67), have the ability to accumulate possessions and kick goals, however since 2010 their champion data averages have fallen from 80, 83 and 86 respectively.
Arguably based on their statistics this year and the restriction of a sub, their form is not warranting a spot in their team’s best 22. Coaches and supporters will argue that they are “playing a role”. If they want to accept mediocrity at this level, let them at their peril but teams need players to contribute both ways.
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