AFL planning crackdown on niggle
THE AFL Commission will on Monday consider a crackdown on the minor incidents that lead to Andrew Gaff-style punches rather than the actual king hits.
AFL football boss Steve Hocking has strongly considered a red card system after punches like Gaff's hit on Andrew Brayshaw in Round 20 and Tom Bugg's 2017 punch on Callum Mills.
But instead of that red card system, he has instead put a proposal to the Commission about the niggling tactics that often see players retaliate with strikes.
Hocking believes those hits and bumps are "cheap shots", adamant players have a part to play in conducting themselves within the spirit of the game.
Hitting players with greater fines or even suspensions for minor tummy taps and bumps off the ball would have ramifications on the Brownlow and put the AFL at odds with players.
Under the 2018 tribunal guidelines an intentional, low impact hit to the body saw a player receive a first fine of $2000 (with a guilty plea), a second fine of $3000 and a third fine of $5000.
Any intentional, low impact hit to the head or neck area resulted in a one-week suspension and saw players ineligible for the Brownlow Medal.
This year there were 272 charges laid against AFL players - up from 160 last year - with 113 more players fined for the kind of punches Hocking wants eradicated.
The league will also consider the kind of incidents that saw GWS forward Toby Greene approaching the ball with his studs up, often collecting opponents in the process.
The league had seemed intent on introducing a red card earlier in the year, Hocking saying of the review: "This is about headquarters staying ahead of the game. If society starts to change we need to be leading that."
But Hocking said last month he wanted to get to the source of bigger hits, with Fremantle's Brayshaw checking the run of Gaff before the incident.
Banning him from trying to prevent Gaff getting to the ball would open a can of worms given it is a common move to try to limit the effectiveness of star players.
Players often push or buffet rivals around a stoppage without expecting to be king-hit as a result.
"I think too often we do just look at the end outcome rather than the standard of behaviour that potentially escalates to that level," Hocking said.
"I've been very clear since I've been in the role, I'd like to see that stamped out of the game.
"The cheap shots, they're just a waste of energy, I think there's plenty of opportunities for players to display their courage and commitment to the game without impeding players unnecessarily. We'll tighten it up, definitely."