'Completely wrong': Mark Robinson torches AFL over 'dog's breakfast'

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Seen here, AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson reacts to the AFL medical sub rule with frustration.
AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson has taken aim at the new medical substitution rules. Pic: Fox Sports

AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson has taken issue with the AFL's new medical substitute rule, saying it risks the "integrity of the game" being called into question.

The AFL on Wednesday approved a rule that will allow clubs to use a 23rd man in their squad if there is a game-ending injury to a player - with a club medical officer to determine if a player is unfit to continue.

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Players subbed off through injuries unrelated to concussions will also not face a mandatory 12-day break under the new rules.

Robinson says he thinks the rule change is "completely wrong" and has warned that clubs could look to exploit it to their advantage.

"I think the AFL has opened up a doorway where the integrity of the game can be questioned,” Robinson said on Fox Footy.

“And it is their doing. The AFL has made this happen on the request of the coaches.

“You can sit there and say to me, the integrity of the game? The AFL when they announced it today also announced penalties for those who are going to break it.

“Gill was even joking today, ‘oh well the coaches will try and get around it’.

“No, no. We can’t have half jokes on this.”

Robinson said it wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility for players to "fake an injury" to use the new rule to their advantage and called the myriad of possibilities around the substitution rule a "dog's breakfast".

“I think the AFL have opened the door, we had Jack (Riewoldt) and Eddie (Betts) on here and asked them how you’re going to get around it… fake an injury. We didn’t need this. In my opinion we didn’t need it,” he said.

“If they (media or fans) even think that a player have cheated in some way and they’ve found out they’ve cheated for the good of the team. How will that player be received?

“He will be called a cheat. Everyone says you’re being over-dramatic – no this is serious stuff. They’ve introduced a 23rd player and penalties.

“Draft picks and premiership points and they think the clubs are going to try and exploit it.

“It’s a dogs breakfast, it has got the potential to be.”

AFL 360 co-host Gerard Whateley also warned that the rule could come to the detriment of players with legitimate injuries.

Pictured here, medical staff attend to an injured player in the 2020 AFL grand final.
AFL teams will be allowed a 23rd man in their squads to replace players that suffer serious injuries. Pic: Getty

Clubs warned about manipulation of rule

“The overreach is the grey area of other injuries,” he said.

“There is a morale imperative on the coaches and clubs not to exploit it. They asked for it and they got it.

“They are the custodians of it. Everyone of these will be scrutinised so deeply.”

The idea for a substitute originated around concussion, after the league in January tightened rules over medical head knocks, but coaches were unanimous in wanting a substitution for any serious injury.

If an AFL player is deemed to have a medically diagnosed concussion they will now automatically be sidelined for 12 days - but Hocking confirmed the same mandatory break didn't apply to other injuries.

Therefore, if a player was substituted out of a match with a game-ending injury other than concussion, they could conceivably play the next week.

"In the case of a player potentially recovering sooner than expected during the week, then the club doctor can actually provide a medical certificate and further proof, if required," AFL football boss Steve Hocking told reporters.

Hocking confirmed there were sanctions in place in a bid to deter manipulation of the rule.

"The safeguards are within the AFL rules - it's conduct unbecoming," he said.

"We can actually apply that at any point we need to."

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir was in favour of the new rule, and is confident it won't be exploited.

"It will be up to the clubs and the coaches not to rort the rule," Longmuir said.

"It's there for the benefit and the health and safety of our players, it's not there for us to use strategically. We need to be aware of that."

with AAP

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