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AFL calls for calm over rules overhaul

Football

AFL football operations manager Steve Hocking says fans should stay calm about rule changes set to be introduced next season.

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The AFL’s competition committee has agreed to at least half a dozen rule changes aimed at reducing congestion after meeting in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Hocking has refused to outline specific changes but said they would be recommended to the AFL commission and executive and could be introduced next season, with trials more likely to be held in reserves competitions than at AFL level.

One of the most controversial suggestions – the introduction of starting positions with a six-six-six formation at centre bounces – remained on the table, Hocking confirmed.

But with fans wary of disruptive change following the introduction of several contentious rules in recent years, Hocking stressed that the AFL was not looking to radically alter the game.

“We started out with over 45 things initially on a whiteboard … we’ve brought that right back to half a dozen,” Hocking said.

“It’s important the fans understand that they should take a level of calmness away from these interviews and these discussions.

“We’re not looking to drop things into the game that are going to upset the rhythm of the game.”

At least six but potentially as many as 12 recommendations will be made for the AFL commission to consider for endorsement at meetings in August and September.

Sydney chief executive Andrew Ireland confirmed the Swans and Brisbane had agreed to trial rule changes during their upcoming NEAFL games.

Hocking did not rule out trials at AFL level but conceded the league needed to work through whether they would compromise the integrity of the competition.

“The second-tier competitions, they’re queuing up to actually trial the things that we’re looking at,” he said.

“Whether it finds its way into an AFL match, that’s clearly a discussion for the commission at some stage.”

– AAP

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