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Friday, July 27, 2018

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan backs down on in-season rule trials

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has backed away from a radical idea of trialling proposed new rules during the premiership season.
McLachlan said on Friday morning the league was “unlikely” to push ahead with the idea of using late-season matches between teams out of finals contention to experiment with rule changes after concerns were raised about the integrity of the game - even though he disagrees with them.
“I reckon the way it’s running is that about two-thirds of people think it’s a bad idea and one-third think it’s good. That’s my assessment after a couple of days,” McLachlan said on 3AW.
“I reckon any time people’s view about why not is that it actually is a risk to the integrity of the game means you can’t do it.
“I personally don’t quite see it like that but if that’s what senior people, and more importantly the public, feel, then there’s no way you can do it.”
McLachlan shocked fans on Wednesday by floating the prospect of using home-and-away matches being played in the coming weeks using experimental rules.
Enforced starting positions - six players in the forward 50 and defensive 50 at every centre bounce - further cuts to interchange rotations and extending the goalsquare are among the changes suggested to cut congestion, make footy better to watch and boost scoring.
The idea was savaged by greats of the game including Leigh Matthews, Matthew Lloyd, Cameron Ling and Matthew Richardson.
Lloyd said: “This is the same Gillon McLachlan who introduced a bye after round 23 because he was so disappointed teams were resting players before finals... yet he’s happy to toy with the rules and the integrity of the game himself.”
St Kilda used several of the modified rules, including starting positions and a giant goalsquare, during match simulation at training yesterday.
Saints coach Alan Richardson said the trial was more useful in giving the AFL an idea of “what not to do” rather than which rules it should bring in.
McLachlan admitted the session was messy: “I don’t think it was the best trial the guys have had.”
McLachlan also took a swipe at Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley for openly discussing a meeting the Magpies had with out-of-contract Gold Coast captain Tom Lynch.
“Nathan’s a good friend of mine and I think he expressed some regret - I think when people have those discussions they should be having them quietly like they have for decades,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s a need to talk about it publicly, people can just say no comment.”


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