The AFL could look at recruiting senior club figures as part of a push to shift public perception around umpiring.
While AFL football operations boss Steve Hocking is cautiously optimistic about the effect of the widespread rule changes so far this season, he is increasingly worried about the commentary around the umpires.
Hocking said he would talk to the AFL Coaches Association about potentially recruiting some of its members to be part of a campaign.
“We have some genuine work to do in that space and it’s not within the nine games on the weekend,” Hocking said.
“It’s how umpires are being talked about, reviewed constantly within games – critically.
“They do an unbelievable job … we need to change attitudes.
“It’s an industry thing.”
Hocking said it is becoming an urgent problem in the game.
He added that it was not a question of making umpires at the top level full-time.
He said players are “super-smart” at exploiting the rules and this puts even more pressure on the umpires.
“If we want a genuine funnel of umpires coming through, I think we need to change our language,” he said.
“It’s bloody tough to get people to sign up to be an umpire.”
Hocking said on Tuesday that after five rounds, the AFL is encouraged by the initial effects of the widespread rule changes.
He said there had been 23 upset results so far, well up on the same stage in previous seasons.
“We have got considerable uncertainty, and we believe that is healthy,” Hocking said.
But the two errors in last week’s Collingwood-Brisbane game highlighted continued frustrations for the AFL with the score review system.
“We just have to get better at it – we are doing a lot of work behind the scenes,” Hocking said.
“We just want to get it right.”
Hocking also confirmed that there would be no change to teams having one warning if they do not stick to the 6-6-6 position rule at every centre bounce.