The AFL coaches started the push for a new medical substitute for the 2021 season and Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has outlined why it was a must.
Injury “carnage” during recent AFL practice games, on the back of a shortened pre-season and longer games, made the new medical substitute a must according to Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin.
On Wednesday the league confirmed the last minute rule change would come in to force from the season-opening clash between Richmond and Carlton on Thursday night.
It morphed from what was going to be a concussion sub in to a full medical sub at the urgings of the AFL coaches, and despite concerns from the AFL Players Association about it being misused.
But Goodwin said 2020 taught everyone in the football industry to be adaptable, and the late rule change was another instance of that.
Increased quarter-lengths and reduced rotations, down from 90 a game to 75, were more changes made for 2021 as the game tried to get back to normal.
And Goodwin threw his support behind the substitute move idea after a raft of injuries, concussion and otherwise, in practice matches as players adjusted to what he said could be a “long, arduous” season.
“I think it’s important for the game,” the Melbourne coach said on Wednesday.
“We have made a lot of changes in terms of rotations, length of game, changes to rules, and you can see the strain is going to be there on the players.
“If we can keep the game even for a little bit longer, and make sure I guess in some ways we keep it so we have 22 v 22 for as long as we can, I think that’s going to be really important for the duration of the season.
“It is going to be a long season, a long arduous season, and long games and I think it’s a good rule to have.”
Demon defender Steven May was among the players who took hard hits in the practice-matches, diagnosed with a mild concussion after a collision against the Western Bulldogs.
His return to play is being monitored under new guidelines and Goodwin said it was part of “carnage” which made the coaches think about how to best protect the entire playing group.
“We’ve gone through a period of two trial games where we have seen some carnage on the injury front and I think everyone has taken a breath and gone ‘wow’,” he said.
“We have change the look of the game, it is a slightly different game, and can we help the game stay the way it is, and look after our players at the same time.
“I think it’s being proactive, I like it. People are getting used to change.”