'I wasn't there': AFL coach exposes major untruth about new rule

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge was one of two AFL coaches absent from a vote on the new medical substitute rule. (Photo by Matt Turner/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge was one of two AFL coaches absent from a vote on the new medical substitute rule. (Photo by Matt Turner/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has taken a potshot at claims the AFL's new medical substitute received unanimous approval from coaches, saying he wasn't part of any decision to approve the change.

The rule allows teams to list a 23rd man to their playing squad one hour prior to the bounce, with that player then only allowed to play in the event of a game-ending injury to a teammate.

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Initially conceived as a concussion substitute, it was reported earlier in the week that coaches approved expanding the substitute's role to any game-ending injury.

To prevent the rule being exploited, club doctors must rule an injured player out for the following 12 days before the substitute can come on.

While reportedly a popular move among coaches, Bulldogs coach Beveridge broke ranks to label the implementation of the new substitute 'hasty' and claim he had no say in whether or not the rule was to be implemented.

"I wasn't there and I had nothing to do with it," Beveridge said.

"I don't support it and our staff and playing group are not sure because it's just been introduced out of the blue."

The 2016 premiership coach suggested going back to something resembling the league's previous, albeit controversial, substitute rule would be more suitable.

Beveridge said that ultimately, allowing teams more substitutions would likely have been a more sensible way forward.

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"If we've got to a stage where we're saying that more players will come out of the game through an injury or concussion than ever before and we need to have an extra player on hand, then surely there were some other levers to pull other than just introduce a substitute player," Beveridge said.

"We've been down this track before with the old sub.

"The 75 interchange is a constraint where I don't think any of us as coaches would want to use more than four on the interchange bench because it means players are off the ground for too long.

"So maybe they could have just added a fifth where both teams could just introduce that player whenever they want, no matter whether there's injury, and then it creates a strategic aspect from a playing and coaching point of view."

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Beveridge said the Bulldogs will hold an "11th hour" meeting to work through the logistics of the new rule ahead of their meeting with Collingwood at the MCG on Friday night.

"As of yesterday our medical staff hadn't been briefed and are none the wiser on the operational aspect of it," Beveridge said.

"When you've got the whole medical establishment not being briefed going into the competition, it's just been rushed through."

Beveridge would not be drawn on fears players and clubs could exploit the new rule by exaggerating the extent of injuries in order to introduce fresh players into the game.

"I wouldn't have thought (that will happen) but I'd rather not get into the player behaviour side of it," Beveridge said.

With AAP

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