'I'm not sure': AFL coaching trio calls for radical rule change

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
AFL coaches Ken Hinkley, Brett Ratten and Chris Fagan have all called for the AFL to consider shortening quarters amid a spate of injuries across the league. Pictures: Getty Images
AFL coaches Ken Hinkley, Brett Ratten and Chris Fagan have all called for the AFL to consider shortening quarters amid a spate of injuries across the league. Pictures: Getty Images

AFL coaches Ken Hinkley, Brett Ratten and Chris Fagan have all called for the league to consider making quarters shorter as the length of games grows.

The pandemic-impacted 2021 season saw each quarter reduced to 16 minutes, plus time on, a move which generally welcomed by players and fans but reverted for the 2021 season.

'THIS IS PATHETIC': Damning footage exposes AFL team's 'terrible' act

'DIFFICULT TO WORK OUT': AFL savaged over 'dumb' Anzac Day farce

But with shortened lists and fewer interchanges, the return to longer quarters hasn't been as well received, particularly with the VFL's new zone rules having the unintentional side-effect of dramatically increasing the time games take.

Carlton and Brisbane's VFL match last weekend saw one quarter alone run for 40 minutes, while the subsequent AFL clash between the two teams saw each quarter run for an average of 34 minutes.

This was a bit much for Lions coach Fagan, who said the game was 'way too long', and he had vocal support from St Kilda's Ratten and Port Adelaide's Hinkley.

“It is way too long – it wears the players out,” Fagan said.

“I don‘t know the stats but the injury lists at clubs at the moment look big and long and we’re only into round six.”

Ratten, who noted the extraordinarily long VFL quarter between the Lions and Blues, said that while the endurance required to play Aussie rules was a core facet of the game, the current time required was slowly becoming untenable.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

“With shortened lists, with shortened rotations, we have made the game even longer than it was two years ago,” Ratten said.

“But that is up to the AFL. We need to make sure we get the best players out to play week-in, week-out.

“That is what it’s about, isn’t it? To make the product, to watch the stars of the game play.

“The game is the hardest game in the world, we want it to continue that way, but there‘s a tipping point on how many of the good players are missing out.”

Ratten's fears of an AFL injury crisis were echoed by rival Hinkley after the Power demolished the Saints last weekend.

Coaches call for AFL to consider shorter quarters

Hinkley has advocated for quarters to run for 18 minutes plus time on - an increase from the 2020 season, but still a significant decrease in playing time.

The Power coach had support from Fagan, and said it would be up to the AFL to decide how to respond to increasing concerns over mounting injuries.

“Everyone is starting to talk about it: the length of the game, the reductions in everything, collision injuries that are happening because you’re out there for longer,” Hinkley said.

“Maybe there is no solution but … we went back to the longer game this year.

“And I’m not sure, is that right or wrong? I will leave that to the decision-makers.”

Ratten is imploring his confidence-sapped players to dig deep as high-profile recruit Brad Hill faces scans on an injured Achilles.

The Saints were thoroughly outclassed by Port Adelaide last weekend, their third loss by more than 60 points this season. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
The Saints were thoroughly outclassed by Port Adelaide last weekend, their third loss by more than 60 points this season. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Hill was hurt as St Kilda's season slumped further into the mire with a nine-goal loss to Port Adelaide on Sunday night.

The Saints are in 16th spot after three heavy defeats in their past four games - to Port, Richmond (86 points) and Essendon (75 points).

Hill, lured from Hawthorn on a six-year contract reportedly worth about $900,000 a season, has been a lightning rod for criticism amid the Saints' early-season crisis.

The winger managed just 10 disposals last week against Richmond and only 10 again versus Port when he finished the game with an ice-pack on an Achilles.

"He has just got a bit of Achilles awareness, he is just a bit tight there, so he will be a test for next week," Saints coach Brett Ratten said.

"But especially after (Jake) Gresham snapping his (Achilles), we will not take any risk with that because that is a nine-month injury."

With AAP

Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.