Rule changes leave clubs in limbo

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 17 Oktober 2012 | 14.43

The substitute will remain, while it is expected a cap on interchanges will be introduced for the 2014 season. Picture: George Salpigtidis Source: Herald Sun

CLUBS are growing frustrated at the constant rule changes the AFL is implementing, forcing them to change their drafting and list management strategies on the fly.

The AFL yesterday changed two rules affecting ruckmen, opting to penalise big men who initiate contact before the ball leaves the umpire's hand at stoppages.

The league also hinted it would cap interchange rotations at 80 for the 2014 season after trialling it in next season's NAB Cup.

One club's national recruiting manager said the radical and repeated changes were making the game - and the type of athletes required - impossible to predict.

"We need to know if (the bench rules) are going to stay in for 2-3 years or is it going to change again," he told SuperFooty.

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"That's the main thing. We're looking four years in advance when drafting these kids, so that's the challenge.

"The game changes enough by itself without having many rule changes as significant as (a cap on rotations)."

Another club said its recruiting division had already met with conditioning staff to discuss drafting strategies in anticipation of an interchange cap.

A recruiter confirmed that of all the events at the AFL draft combine, the endurance tests were now the most telling.

"We already know if they can play the game or not, so I get the most out of the (beep test and 3km trial)," he said.

Asked if an interchange cap of 80 would kill off big, cumbersome ruckman, the recruiter said: "Yeah, they're in trouble.

"You'd want to be having a major impact with your hitouts to advantage and your stuff around the ground.

"If they can't run endurance-wise then you have to take that into account.

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"If they're a standout player then you hope in a full-time system their running capacity can be improved, so it's just finding that balance."

If the interchange cap is introduced in 2014 it would suit Melbourne's latest recruits.

The Dees secured 17-year-old power forward Jesse Hogan and explosive wingman Dom Barry last week, with both featuring high in the beep test and 3km trial.

Barry finished third in the run, while both players scored 14-2s in the beep, ranking them equal ninth.

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