Bring back AFL's magic: Demons skipper

Jason Phelan

Do whatever you need to do, AFL. Just please, oh please, bring back the game's magic.

Melbourne co-skipper Nathan Jones has led a chorus of senior players in imploring the AFL to address the congestion and low scoring that has turned them away from the game as viewers.

Jones, Geelong Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield and GWS co-captain Phil Davis shared their thoughts on the state of the game on Fox Footy's On The Couch on Monday night.

"For me it's about bringing back the magic ... the game is not in the best position or state it could be," Jones said.

"Removing my playing hat - I love the game for its competitiveness as a player - but as far as watching it ... I used to be an avid watcher.

"But now I feel like I'm turning more games off. It's not as aesthetically pleasing, I'm not getting as much enjoyment out of it and it's not providing that excitement that it used to."

Three clubs - Hawthorn, Fremantle and Brisbane - have taken part in trials as part of AFL footy boss Steve Hocking's extensive survey on the state of the game.

Innovations trialled include having players start in zones at stoppages and centre bounces, allowing players to run 20m without bouncing and kicking in from behinds from 25m out from goal instead of the goal square.

Dangerfield, who is also the president of the AFL Players' Association, is all for change and implored the 'leave the game alone' lobby to be open-minded.

"'Zones' is a terrible word within our code, but what it could potentially bring us I think is definitely worth investigating," he said.

"So before you judge it take a look at it first because I think there's merit in it without a doubt."

He said dwindling television ratings have injected a sense of urgency into the debate.

"I don't think the AFL are looking at this and saying 'We've got time for audiences to decrease, we've got time for the revenue of the game to decrease' ... they want it moved now," Dangerfield added.

"It needs to be changed now ... we need to bump (TV) audiences up now."

Davis also sees merit in looking at rule tweaks, but believes players and coaches shouldn't be involved - as they currently are - with the league's Competition Committee,

"I think what you've got to do is take certain stakeholders out of the decision-making process because I don't care how the game looks if I win," he said.

"The coaches don't care how it looks as long as they win, so you've actually got to take us out of the decision-making process."