AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has backed away from trialling rule changes in regular-season games this season.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has backed away from trialling rule changes in regular-season games this season.

AFL back-pedals on in-season rules trial

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has backed away from a radical idea of trialling proposed new rules during the premiership season.

McLachlan said on Friday morning the league was "unlikely" to push ahead with the idea of using late-season matches, between teams out of finals contention, to experiment with rule changes, after concerns were raised about the integrity of the game - even though he disagreed with them.

"I reckon the way it's running is that about two thirds of people think it's a bad idea and one third think it's good. That's my assessment after a couple of days," McLachlan said on 3AW.

"I reckon any time people's view about why not is that it actually is a risk to the integrity of the game means you can't do it.

"I personally don't quite see it like that but if that's what senior people and, more importantly, the public feel, then there's no way you can do it."

McLachlan shocked fans on Wednesday by floating the prospect of using home-and-away matches in the coming weeks to trial the experimental rules.

Enforced starting positions - six players in the forward 50 and defensive 50 at every centre bounce - further cuts to interchange rotations and enlarging the goal square are among the changes suggested to cut congestion, with a view to making footy better to watch and boosting scoring.

The idea was savaged by greats of the game including Leigh Matthews, Matthew Lloyd, Cameron Ling and Matthew Richardson.

Former Essendon full-forward Matthew Lloyd is among the greats of the game to attack proposed rule changes.
Former Essendon full-forward Matthew Lloyd is among the greats of the game to attack proposed rule changes.

Lloyd said: "This is the same Gillon McLachlan who introduced a bye after round 23 because he was so disappointed teams were resting players before finals … yet he's happy to toy with the rules and the integrity of the game himself."

St Kilda used several of the modified rules, including starting positions and a giant goal square, during match simulation at training on Thursday.

Saints coach Alan Richardson said the trial was more useful in giving the AFL an idea of "what not to do" rather than which rules it should bring in.

McLachlan admitted the session was "messy".

"I don't think it was the best trial the guys have had," he said.

McLachlan also took a swipe at Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley for openly discussing a meeting the Magpies had with out-of-contract Gold Coast captain Tom Lynch.

"Nathan's a good friend of mine and I think he expressed some regret - I think when people have those discussions they should be having them quietly like they have for decades," McLachlan said.

"I don't think there's a need to talk about it publicly -  people can just say no comment."



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