Debate around the state of modern AFL continues to rage on, with Patrick Dangerfield's latest contribution copping an absolutely pasting.
Congestion on the field has become the topic of most concern, with Dangerfield's Geelong coach Chris Scott, Richmond's Alastair Clarkson and Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury among those who would like to see teams reduced to 16 players - in order to free up space.
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The argument is an obvious one that more space means less congestion, and Dangerfield is all for it.
On Wednesday night on Nine's Footy Classified, the Geelong star pushed his case, fully expecting the inevitable blow-back that it would cause.
“My own personal view, and I know I’ll be slammed on social media for this... is if we want to open up the game it is reducing the number of players on the ground,” Dangerfield said on Channel Nine’s Footy Classified.
"If we want to open up the game, it's reducing the number of players on the ground."— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) July 22, 2020
Patrick Dangerfield believes cutting the number of players on the field is the answer to creating a more exciting game for the fans.#9FootyClassified | Watch @channel9 pic.twitter.com/5cf0Gw1eJM
“That purely for me is having seen some of the practice games that we’ve had which the AFL has organised where it has been 16-a-side. The ball really does move quite freely.
“Whenever teams try and free up space, you generally have six ahead of the play to try and man-up the defence, whatever it might be.
“If you had two less on the ground, the idea is that it would be more free-flowing, more scoring and more enjoyment for the fans.”
Former AFL players Kevin Bartlett and Kane Cornes, as well as commentator Brian Taylor, were among those to pan Dangerfield for talking "gibberish".
“The VFA was 16-a-side for 30 years, it made little difference to the game," Taylor said on Triple M radio.
“If they think that is why they’re gonna find space, why would you change the fabric of the game, the very fabric of the game to try and get congestion clear?”
Port Adelaide great slams idea
Retired Port Adelaide legend Cornes was more brutal in his assessment of Dangerfield's views, insisting it was a "ridiculous" notion to consider scaling the game back to 16-a-side.
“What hope do we have as a sport when the most influential player wants to bring in ridiculous rules, Alastair Clarkson has also mentioned 16-a-side, Ross Lyon one of the smartest former coaches has also floated 16-a-side,” Cornes said on South Australia's SEN Breakfast.
“Can we not learn from the subtle changes that have affected the game in holding the ball before we go and make ridiculous drastic changes by taking four players off the ground. What would that do to the game?
“Can we just methodically have a think about this? Patrick Dangerfield wants to make it 16-a-side because he’s played a couple of practice matches at training where people are going half rat power and he thinks that will open up the game?
“We’ve seen it is the coaches it is not the game. There is nothing wrong with the game, it has always been 18-a-side.
“To make that 16-a-side is completely ridiculous and I think Patrick Dangerfield and Alastair Clarkson and the other coaches that have mentioned 16-a-side have a responsibility not to go shooting their mouth off and suggesting ridiculous things to solve the game when we have little to no evidence to think that would actually improve the game.”