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Beveridge wants AFL medi sub rule scrapped

3 minute read

The AFL's medical substitution rule has come under fire this week and Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge and Richmond counterpart Damien Hardwick want it changed.

Bulldogs coach LUKE BEVERIDGE.
Bulldogs coach LUKE BEVERIDGE. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has called on the AFL to scrap the sub rule and merely expand the interchange bench to five players.

The medical substitution rule was hastily introduced on the eve of the 2021 season and was only meant to be used if it was reasonably determined a player would be medically unfit to participate in any match for at least the next 12 days.

But players who are subbed off are often cleared to play the next week, sparking questions about whether coaches have been exploiting the rule to gain a tactical advantage.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has come under fire after subbing off Ben Miller for the speedy Maurice Rioli midway through the final quarter of last week's draw with Fremantle.

Miller didn't have a visible injury but Hardwick strongly denied the subbing was used for tactical purposes, saying the tall defender was battling a calf complaint.

Beveridge said the best way for the confusion to be taken out of it is by scrapping the medical sub rule and instead allow coaches to field five-man benches.

"Right at the start, quite simply, my drive was just if we think we need one (interchange player) as a buffer for concussion, don't make it a sub," Beveridge said.

"Just say you've got five on the interchange and can use them if you want.

"And that will add a bit of tactical intrigue.

"I'm not going to circulate five players during the game. Four is almost one too many anyway.

"So you're likely going to sit one down until you really need that player.

"You could introduce that player for a quarter here and there and it creates a different angle. All it does is it removes all the red tape.

"We don't have to explain ourselves if you take a player out of the game and it's just so simple, but we don't usually make simple, practical decisions, unfortunately."

Hardwick wants to see a tweak to the rule which would allow coaches to make a substitution at any point in the final quarter - even if the player they are taking off isn't injured.

But the three-time premiership coach was steadfast the substitution he made against Fremantle was for medical purposes.

"What I will say is we find it quite challenging at various stages that a medical practitioner is challenged with regards to the sub," Hardwick said.

"Ben had an incident in the first quarter, he had pain management before the game, he had pain management during the game.

"The fact of the matter is we make a decision that Ben can either try and push on, but he's a possibility of missing two weeks - or we can get Ben off.

"Our personal decision is we'd prefer that player to play the next week."

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