It’s not often you can draw a line through a top four team at the half way point of the season. But here we are, with the West Coast Eagles in 2019.
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott is concerned that some AFL players have made an artform of drawing free kicks for high contact.
As of this week, Scott’s opinion on such matters carries more weight because he is a member of the inaugural AFL Competition Committee.
The committee takes over from several previous groups within the league, including the laws of the game committee.
High free kicks is a hot topic, with Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson on Friday pointing to Geelong captain Joel Selwood as an exponent.
That drew a sharp response from Cats coach Chris Scott, Brad’s twin brother, who accused Clarkson of offering alternative facts in terms of how many concussions Selwood had suffered during his career.
“For the greater good of the game, we still have to focus on the guy who gets to the ball first,” the Kangaroos coach said after Saturday’s loss to Melbourne..
“If the guy who gets to the ball first wills himself to the contest, then he should be protected.
“But there are clearly players who do it really, really well and it’s an artform.
“The umpires didn’t reward them last year and it seems to be, earlier in the year, there are a number of players from a lot of clubs who are doing it.”
Scott was then asked about the fine line between drawing a free kick for high contact and earning a legitimate free.
“Who’d be an umpire – tough gig, we should pay them a bit more,” Scott said.
He added North players were coached to win the ball first and be prepared for the tackle.
“It is a tactic, it’s not something that just eventuates,” he said.
“Players are very adept at drawing high free kicks, so we just try and get in lower.
“If you go high in the tackle, you’re vulnerable to being shrugged – we do work on it at training, with our tackling.”
Scott said he was flattered to be asked onto the committee.
“I love the game and I’m not intending to go on the panel (with) all guns blazing,” he said.
“But I hope I can offer an answer to some questions in terms of, if asked, ‘if we do this’, what will happen as a response?
“I’ve been concerned in the past (about) unintended consequences of changes.
“So I hope my role will be one of offering an opinion as to what I think coaches and players will do if there are changes made.”