Triple-premiership coach Damien Hardwick has blasted a controversial new rule change which is causing chaos in the VFL.
Richmond Tigers coach Damien Hardwick has blasted the controversial new anti-density rules currently being trialled in the VFL practice matches.
With the aim of opening up play and reducing congestion, the AFL recently introduced anti-density rules in the East Coast state league.
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At boundary throw-ins and kick-ins, three players from each team are required to be inside each 50m arc, including one in the goalsquare.
The rule inevitably forces dozens of resets and creates additional free kicks, with players struggling to adjust to the changes.
Speaking to reporters after Richmond’s 11.12 (78) to 7.7 (49) victory over Hawthorn on Sunday afternoon, Hardwick offered a passionate response when asked about younger players in the squad, many of who compete in the VFL.
“The challenge for us is just fitting them in and giving them opportunities to play, because the game unfortunately at that lower level, with the rules, is very, very challenging,” Hardwick said.
“It’s hard to prepare them for AFL level. It’s so non-AFL like what we’re seeing at the moment.
“So that’s going to be an enormous challenge for our players — they’re going to have to do top-up running, because it’s nothing like AFL at the minute.
“The free kicks today at VFL level were laughable.
“We’ve expressed our concerns (to the AFL) so it’s over to them, really. We’re trying to prepare players for the very best competition in the world, I think. We probably need to have a lower league with probably the same rules, I would think.
“I think sanity would prevail at some stage, would it not?”
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson also called for players in both grades to be playing under the same set of rules.
“I can understand if players are showing no intent, but sometimes they’re 60 or 70 metres away from the goalsquare and the whistle blows, and they’re trying to get back there and they’re just slow in doing so in terms of the time that they’re given, and the umpire pays a free kick to the opposition because they didn’t reset quickly enough. I think there just needs to be a little bit of tolerance,” Clarkson said.
“We don’t train that way during the week, we don’t set anything up to do with our training during the week in that manner, so I’d hope that they’d look at that and try to come up with a compromise that makes it more understanding of the amount of AFL players that you’ve got in your system playing VFL footy.”
North Melbourne coach David Noble echoed Hardwick’s remarks earlier in the week.
“It takes too long to reset and it changes the roles that we‘re looking for our players to play coming into the AFL,” Noble said on Thursday.
“I was involved in the trial when the AFL came up a couple of years ago to Brisbane when we had three in the front half. That actually made sense.
“But pushing one back to the goalsquare from a D50 (stoppage) just didn’t make sense for me.
“I understand trying to ‘de-densify’ numbers, I’m not against that, but the length that we actually had to take … it needs a lot more discussion before it gets put in.”
The VFL’s home and away season commences on Friday, April 16th.