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AFL rule changes would be "blight on the game": Buckley

Football

Leading AFL players and coaches are divided on proposed rule changes which Nathan Buckley fears would be a “blight” on the game.

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The AFL’s competition committee will meet next Wednesday and several ideas are in the mix, with the elimination of congestion around the ball a top priority.

Momentum is building for the introduction of starting positions at centre-bounces and stoppages following trials at a number of clubs.

But Collingwood coach Buckley fears the change would kill the flow of the game.

“I don’t like it. I think it will be a blight on the game,” Buckley told SEN radio today.

“The goal-line technology has proven to be not perfect; it deadens and slows the flow of the game, the game stops at times to wait for that to happen.

“I think if we go to zones, we’re going to be waiting for players to get back in the zones. And how often do you want to do that?

“Every time there’s a stoppage in the forward 50, we’re waiting for three pairs of players to go and get back in the opposite 50. That’s what the product is likely to descend into.”

AFL Players’ Association president Patrick Dangerfield disagreed, saying starting positions would create a more watchable game.

“I wouldn’t see it as a blight,” the Geelong star said.

“I think we need to give it a chance to work first.

“Regardless of some wonderful games of footy on the weekend, which there was and there is every round, I still think the aesthetic of footy isn’t as good as it once was and it needs help to improve.”

Geelong coach Chris Scott has also expressed support for starting points while Western Bulldogs counterpart Luke Beveridge is firmly opposed.

Dangerfield, who is a member of the 12-man competition committee, has viewed footage from the initial trials and liked what he saw.

“I really like the look of it,” he said.

“It reminded me of 2005 when you would see a stoppage and (dual Brownlow Medallist Chris) Judd burst out of a pack, and he’d have 20 metres of space to run into before he was confronted with any numbers.”

Once the competition committee rubber-stamps any rule changes, they will go before the AFL executive and then the commission will have the final say.

The AFL will trial any rule changes in a full game, most likely in the VFL, by the end of the season.

– AAP

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