Coaches left “nude” by new rules: Hocking

March 12, 2019 6:45 pm in by
AFL Operations Manager Steve Hocking (left) with CEO Gillon McLachlan. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

AFL football boss Steve Hocking is resolute about the raft of rule changes, while acknowledging that it has left coaches “a bit nude”.

Hocking confirmed on Tuesday there will be no change to the clamp on when runners will be used, despite the confidence from Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge that the rule would be scrapped ahead of round one.

The AFL will host the 18 senior coaches on Thursday ahead of the season launch and it’s certain to be an animated meeting given the wholesale rule changes and their impact during the pre-season.

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The restriction on runners and double 50m penalties have been the two biggest rule issues to come out of the pre-season.

The changes, led by the 6-6-6 positioning of players at centre bounces, are designed to open the game up and improve how it looks.

Hocking said the changes should be viewed as a whole, not in isolation.

But there is plenty of disquiet among the coaches about the runners, who can only be on the field now after a goal is kicked.

That will restrict the ability of coaches to send messages to their players.

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Beveridge was confident on the weekend that the AFL would yield to pressure and relax the new provision.

Hocking has overseen a large-scale review of the game over the last 12 months that has led to the rule changes.

He pointed to Richmond’s dramatic comeback win over Hawthorn on Saturday as an example of what is possible under the new rules.

“The coaches are a bit scared … they’re a bit nude, really, from where they’ve been,” Hocking said.

“The second part is you could be 40 points down … and get back in a game.

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“That’s pretty exciting as well, so what strategy are you going to roll out?

“For Richmond, they pulled that out of the fire, completely, and that’s exciting.”

Hocking said given the amount of research behind the rule changes – along with consultation with the clubs – it would be premature to consider back-tracking ahead of round one.

“It won’t happen and for good reason … I’m not sure we could have (researched) any of those changes any more than what we did,” Hocking said.

“There was always going to be the odd clunkiness around certain rules … but the important callout for us is all those rules work together.

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“They’re actually a suite of rules that (is) going to impact time and space within the game – we’re not going to move away from that.”

After controversy around several double 50m penalties during the pre-season, Hocking said it was up to the AFL to explain the new provisions to the clubs as much as it is for the players to adapt.


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