AFL game length a worry for coaches

·2-min read

St Kilda's Brett Ratten has added his voice to a chorus of coaches who are concerned that the length of games is hurting players and the AFL's spectacle.

Ratten believes there's a tipping point as games this season return to 20-minute quarters plus time-on, but list sizes and the number of in-game rotations are reduced.

The Saints boss has joined coaching colleagues Ken Hinkley and Chris Fagan with his worries about the injury impact on players and the spectacle of the code.

"With shortened lists, with shortened rotations, we have made the game even longer than it was two years ago," Ratten said on Sunday night.

"In the VFL yesterday, the Carlton-Brisbane game went for 40 minutes in one quarter - that was nearly half the game last year.

"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 said clubs could be forced to use their entire lists which, in turn, could alter recruiting philosophies in favour of older, battle-hardened players.

"It could change how we look at the game going forward," he said.

"That will be for clubs to decide, but for the AFL to work out with some of the high performance areas and the doctors and get some feedback from the clubs.

"We are six rounds in, so let's have a look at it by rounds 11 and 12."

Last season, amid a scheduling squeeze because of the coronavirus, games were reduced to quarters of 16 minutes plus time-on.

Port coach Hinkley wants quarters of 18 minutes plus time-on.

"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 on Saturday.

"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."

Brisbane coach Fagan also backed quarters of 18 minutes plus time-on after his side's Saturday night win over Carlton lasted 136 minutes.

"It is way too long - it wears the players out," Fagan said post-match.

"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."