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AFL News: Coaches unimpressed by in-season rule change, Tigers trio back, Cats star to snub Tassie homecoming

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29th May, 2024
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Coaches believe the AFL’s mid-season change to the contentious holding-the-ball rule won’t have a major impact.

After weeks of backlash from coaches and fans, the AFL hierarchy has directed umpires to shorten the “reasonable time” component of the rule.

The move comes after some coaches expressed confusion at how the law was being implemented.

Carlton coach Michael Voss, who sought clarity from the AFL earlier in the week, says he’s waiting to see how the change is implemented in his club’s Thursday night fixture against Port Adelaide.

“Every team sits and watches the first game of the week to find out how that plays out,” Voss told reporters.

“But there has been some really good dialogue, I think that has been well and truly embraced by the AFL.

“Plenty of clubs have been able to give the feedback we think it needs and whether that’s a slight interpretation or a slight adjustment, then we’ll roll with that.”

James Aish speaks with the umpires.

James Aish speaks with the umpires. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

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Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says, regardless of the change, the holding-the-ball rule will remain difficult for umpires to adjudicate.

“It’s still going to be hard for the umpires, that’s the bottom line,” Beveridge told reporters on Wednesday.

“Tackles don’t last that long, it’s so hard for the guys and girls out there with the whistle in their hand to get it right.

“I don’t think there’s going to be much change from what’s transpired over the last week, there really can’t be much change.”

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks described the change as “a minor adjustment”.

“It’s an important one we don’t make too big a deal of,” Nicks told reporters.

“There’s not a lot of change in it. We’re going down the right path, it’s player welfare that we’re looking at.

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“There may be a reaction and it might be overdone slightly in the first couple of games where it’s a little sharper on holding the ball, but that’s OK.

“We’re not changing rules because we don’t like the game, we’re changing rules or adjusting parts of the game for player welfare … we’re doing it for the right reasons.”

Umpires attended Collingwood’s training on Wednesday to help coach Craig McRae’s team adjust to the fresh interpretation.

“They officiated like it would be officiated going forward … we’re aware of what is going on,” McRae told reporters.

“I would love to reward the tackle more.

“That has always been a focus of our group, that we want to pressure well, so a few more rewards would be nice.”

The AFL said the holding-the-ball rule remained a weekly focus for umpires.

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“It has become clearer throughout the season that in discharging their duty of care whilst executing a tackle, tacklers are positively electing not to take tackled players to ground in the tackle or are generally doing so in a reasonable way including by not using excessive force,” the league said in a statement on Wednesday.

“As a consequence, we are seeing players hold on to the ball slightly longer and challenging the definition of ‘reasonable time’.

“Our umpires are clear on the interpretation of holding the ball and it continues to be a focus of umpire coaching each week.”

Tigers get relief at last

Injury-hit Richmond are starting to get some relief with three players, including dual premiership player Jack Graham, set to return against Geelong.

Graham, along with Rhyan Mansell and Jacob Bauer, are all expected to be available for the Tigers’ Saturday night trip to GMHBA Stadium – their first game in Geelong since 2017.

Forward Mansell missed Richmond’s Dreamtime defeat to Essendon on Saturday night due to concussion.

Graham sat out the last two matches after hurting his hamstring in the thumping loss against the Western Bulldogs three weeks ago.

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But the return of Graham will be offset by the absence of the dangerous Shai Bolton, who was concussed in the final quarter against the Bombers.

Luckless midfielder Jacob Hopper’s hamstring injury is taking longer to heal than first anticipated and could be sidelined for another four weeks.

Hopper’s former GWS teammate Tim Taranto is listed as up to two weeks away after the reigning Tigers’ best-and-fairest winner broke his wrist at training in April.

Star forward Tom Lynch has been sidelined since badly hurting his hamstring in the round-three upset of Sydney, but is tracking to be available in two-to-three weeks.

Jake to turn his back on Tassie homecoming

Off-contract Geelong defender Jake Kolodjashnij struggles to see himself anywhere else as he prepares to ink a new deal to keep him with the Cats.

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Kolodjashnij will become a free agent at season’s end should he not sign a new contract before then.

But the premiership player is more than content where he is, even as his home state, Tasmania, prepares to become the AFL’s 19th club in 2028.

“I’m Geelong through and through; I’ve been here since I was a kid, slowly matured and started a family, so it’d be hard to pull up stumps and ship over to Tassie,” Kolodjashnij said.

“It’s a long time away too (until Tasmania joins the AFL), I don’t know how the body will be (in 2028). But I’m loving my time at Geelong and I don’t really see myself being anywhere else.”

Despite pledging his loyalty to Geelong, Kolodjashnij admitted it was hard not to get caught up in the hype surrounding the Devils preparing to be part of the AFL.

 “I haven’t looked too far ahead apart from barracking for what they’re doing,” he said of the Tasmanian club.

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“The memberships they’re doing are pretty viral (the club passed 150,000 memberships sold in March), people jumping on board, so it’s pretty exciting.”

Geelong are attempting to bounce back from losing four straight matches – their worst winless streak in 14 seasons under coach Chris Scott.

The Cats host struggling Richmond on Saturday night, when they will also hope to end a two-game losing streak at GMHBA Stadium.

“We’re going to really narrow our focus on the next two weeks and knuckle down at training and turn around those areas we’ve been lacking,” Kolodjashnij said.

“It’s probably little bits and pieces all over the ground (the Cats need to fix up).”

with AAP

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