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Tread carefully on AFL changes: Dogs coach

Bulldogs head coach Luke Beveridge talks to his team during the round four AFL match between the Western Bulldogs and the Sydney Swans at Etihad Stadium on April 14, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
13th June, 2018
6

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has warned the AFL to tread carefully in its bid to revitalise the game.

AFL footy boss Steve Hocking is canvassing opinions and will look to potentially implement rule changes at the end of the season aimed at increasing scoring and reducing congestion.

Tweaks as subtle as reducing the cap on interchanges and limiting runners – to radical shifts like introducing zones and cutting the number of players on the field – have been put forward.

Beveridge hopes the league will take a softly, softly approach if it does anything at all.

“We’ve got to identify the main reasons for (congestion) and not make drastic changes that may not work and might send the game into spiral or freefall in other areas,” Beveridge said.

“It’s a difficult one to debate dramatic change because our game is so pure.

“Obviously there’s some talking points around scoring and congestion, but there’s some quite cosmetic changes we can make by simply throwing the ball up a bit quicker.

“(That) means you don’t nominate a ruckman and it’s a team’s obligation to make sure they only have one (ruckman) if they want to maintain that rule.”

Hocking has already met industry heavyweights Leigh Matthews, Gerard Healy, Malcolm Blight, Mike Sheahan and Gerard Whateley as he undertakes his health check of the game.

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It continued when league boss Gillon McLachlan hosted a Monday dinner for senior coaches at his house.

While the AFL is casting the net wide as it looks for answers, Beveridge believes some of the game’s issues are of their own doing.

“There are things currently in the game through the broadcast (requirements) and the umpires not moving the game on quick enough that encourage and entice congestion,” he said.

“There will always be times when there’s a lot of numbers in certain areas, but I’d make the cosmetic changes and see how it affects us.

“Let’s not be too dramatic.

“I’m not for some of the remedies that people are discussing because I think you can just make really simple adjustments and things can change.”

The AFL will tweak a key aspect of the game during rounds 13 and 14 when it revisits its experiment with four field umpires.