AFL teams are going to have to adjust quickly to 2021’s rule changes to ensure they keep pace with the rest of the competition.
That’s the verdict from leading coaches Damien Hardwick and Nathan Buckley after they crunched the numbers following Richmond’s 11.14 (80) to 11.8 (74) win against Collingwood on Friday night.
The Magpies have bigger worries after a double injury blow in the narrow defeat, after an off-season plagued by a race controversy and the ugly departure of midfielder Adam Treloar.
But on-field the reduction of interchange rotations from 90 to 75, a new rule restricting the movement of the man on the mark aimed at speeding up ball movement and the increase in length of quarters back to 20 minutes is having a major impact and prompted Hardwick to declare “it’s a different game”.
“We took 120 uncontested marks — that’s normally a two-game total for us,” the triple premiership coach said.
“It’s a different look and we’ll do a little bit of work on that and see whether it’s something we have to work our way through.”
Both coaches saw drastic drops in the statistics they use to measure how much pressure they’re putting on the opposition when they’re attempting to win back possession.
“Richmond would see themselves as one of the better pressure sides in the competition and our numbers are generally pretty good in that area, but they were as low as anything that you would’ve seen,” Buckley said.
“It was a very open game … but it’s going to take a good five or six weeks before we know exactly where the game is going to settle.
“We’re all talking about the man on the mark, but 75 rotations with an extra 20 minutes of footy is going to be the biggest test, given that all of us that are playing haven’t played a normal-length game for nearly 18 months.”
Tigers head coach Damien Hardwick looks on during the AFL Community Series match against Collingwood. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Jayden Short took 12 marks for the Tigers. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Nathan Buckley talks to the media after the Magpies defeat. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Buckley forecast a season of “real flux and change” for the competition as clubs emerge from the COVID pandemic with major reductions in football department spending.
“2020 was a real difficult year and we got through and we’ve had a shorter preparation (for this season),” Buckley said.
“The soft cap for footy programs has been cut by 40 per cent, so the ratios of staff to players is very different to what it was.
“The games are now back to full length and we’re going with less rotations, so there’s a lot of change in the game.
“There’s a few rule changes that are designed to speed it up and to make it more open and offensive, so there’s a lot of different factors.
“The coaching and playing groups that get it right are going to get a kickstart early.”
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