Andrew Gaff at the AFL Tribunal. Picture: David Geraghty / The Australian.
Andrew Gaff at the AFL Tribunal. Picture: David Geraghty / The Australian.

AFL set for further on-field crackdown

Is this the end of the annoying, niggling tagger?

AFL players trying to rough up opposition players beware: the League is ready to crackdown.

As speculation of a red-card system flared late in the 2018 season - largely due to Eagle Andrew Gaff's vicious off-the-ball strike on Docker Andrew Brayshaw - the League may instead take a tougher stance on lesser-grade incidents in a bid to prevent rising on-field tensions.

AFL football operations boss Steve Hocking said the League would next month hand the AFL Commission a set of proposals regarding on-field behaviour.

And while a red-card rule has been considered, as much focus had been put on preventing more serious incidents from occurring.

"I think the thing that we're really looking to get after is just that low-level behaviour, you know pushing guys in the back, the low-level punches and so forth," Hocking said.

"We're going to take a very strong stance on that for 2019."

 

West Coast star Andrew Gaff copped a season-ending ban after he lost his cool with Andrew Brayshaw. Picture: David Geraghty / The Australian.
West Coast star Andrew Gaff copped a season-ending ban after he lost his cool with Andrew Brayshaw. Picture: David Geraghty / The Australian.

 

Hocking said recommendations would be put to the Commission, from which it would determine "how hard we go."

"We'll put in front of them something to deal with what potentially leads to the Gaff incident," Hocking said.

"And I think that's where we need to add to. I think too often we do just look at the end outcome rather than the standard of behaviour that potentially escalates to that level.

"I've been very clear since I've been in the role, I'd like to see that stamped out of the game.

"The cheap shots, they're just a waste of energy, I think there's plenty of opportunities for players to display their courage and commitment to the game without impeding players unnecessarily.

"We'll tighten it up, definitely."

Speaking on SEN, Hocking addressed a range of issues, including:

 

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan played apart in last week’s AFL Draft. Pic: AAP
AFL chief Gillon McLachlan played apart in last week’s AFL Draft. Pic: AAP

 

THE SUCCESS OF THE AFL'S TWO-DAY DRAFT

"I do (think it was a success). We feel as though we've progressed it into the future but we've clearly got some work to do.

"(AFL game development manager) Andrew Dillon's team will certainly work through that and are currently reviewing it.

"There's some things that you could definitely tweak straight away, which is whether or not you need five minutes for a club to decide on a pick. I think that potentially could come back to four (minutes), so there are some adjustments (to be made).

"I thought the first night was super. The fans got to see 20 top-end players and got a really good insight and that amount of time allowed them the opportunity to get to know the player that's coming to the club but also get to know the talent that's available as well."

LIVE TRADING ON THE NIGHT

"That was one of the pleasing changes," Hocking said.

"How far we take that into the future, we need to decide that over the coming months.

"We'll need to consult with the clubs about that."

 

Ian Hill wasn’t drafted on opening night of the draft despite being in the room at Marvel Stadium. Pic: AAP
Ian Hill wasn’t drafted on opening night of the draft despite being in the room at Marvel Stadium. Pic: AAP

 

TRADING PLAYERS ON DRAFT NIGHT "A WAY OFF"

"That's going to be a huge step as far as players go," Hocking said.

"You sort of think about the players that don't get selected on the first night, and then on top of that have to sleep overnight on that and then wait 24 hours later before they have an understanding where they're heading, I don't know how that would play out for them emotionally on the night.

"All of a sudden if you've been selected by one club and then you find yourself at another club, you know within a couple of minutes, I don't know at this stage if we're quite ready for that."

WHETHER SYDNEY'S DRAFT-NIGHT MOVE COULD BE DEEMED TAMPERING

"We've talked about that internally and we didn't feel that," Hocking said.

"I think what it did do is it gave us a glimpse of where teams need to go in the future.

"Now Sydney clearly had a team put together that was ready for that - and I think that's a real credit to them.

"There's no doubt that clubs would have left the draft and they'll be reviewing ... how they need to set themselves up.

"I think what's happening within the game and the Sydney example is a good one, there's a bit of re-engineering going on, and I think that's really healthy."

 

Melbourne might not have won the AFL premiership in 2018 but they were AFLX Premiers. Pic: Michael Klein
Melbourne might not have won the AFL premiership in 2018 but they were AFLX Premiers. Pic: Michael Klein

 

A NEW-LOOK AFLX

"We're a fair way down the path as far as AFLX goes," Hocking said.

"We think that we've reviewed last year, we've considered the changes that need to be made around rules and so forth, and also what the concept needs to look like second time around.

"It'll be set up for young kids and families, that's what we're working towards.

"We'll definitely have something in the marketplace place by the middle of December."

Hocking said a proposed All-Star model was likely.

"We're talking to those captains at the moment and we think we'll have most of that confirmed in December, but it's completely different to what we launched last year.

"We think the fans will get excited by it and if we sort of think about where football sits and where you learn to play the game and that's in the schoolyard and with your mates - it's going to be reflective in this."