AFL coaches divided on game's direction - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL coaches divided on game's direction

By Roger Vaughan and Robert Grant 05/04/2006 07:33:18 PM Comments (0)

AFL coaches continue to be divided on whether there is a problem with the way the game is played, let alone how to fix it.

After Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse said this week that the game was becoming like Gaelic football and Richmond's Terry Wallace yearned for a return to `80s-style play, several of their counterparts weighed in on the issue.

The unusually large number of possessions in several games last weekend and the lack of contested marking in the AFL has generated some heated debate.

But Carlton coach Denis Pagan stuck to his long-standing belief that the rules needed to be left alone, while the Western Bulldogs' Rodney Eade says it's the coaches, not the rules themselves, that are dictating how the game is played.

"There has been a lot of discussion, a lot of talk after one game of football," Pagan said.

"I just think you've got to wait six or seven weeks and you've perhaps got some evidence as to where it's all going - maybe we're just jumping the gun a little bit.

"If you bombed it into the forward line now it's probably going to rebound that quickly that you wouldn't know what hit you.

"But it's going to change, there'll be a Stephen Kernahan or a Wayne Carey or a Gary Ablett that will come along and everyone will want to get in as quick as they can and everyone will be saying, gee, is that as pretty to watch as people executing their skills out on the wing?"

Eade also thinks people are reacting too quickly and said possessions were up because the ball is now in play more.

He and Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy agreed that an easy solution to possession football was for players to man up better on their opponents.

"The AFL is (working) with the rules and then people say `no, we shouldn't tinker with it'," Eade said.

"Things I saw on the weekend, it was really just teams needing to pick other teams up, man them up.

"As coaches, we're here to win games.

"It's a kneejerk reaction at the moment, let's just settle down, let's see where the trend is after 8-10 weeks, then we can make a calculated decision."

But Sheedy is determined to eradicate flooding, where a team puts as many players as possible into an opponent's forward line to clog up supply.

"I will try to do anything to get flooding out of footy, step by step, gradually, over the next year or two or three," he said.

Meanwhile, Eade defended young midfielder Ryan Griffen, who said Richmond gave up last Friday night as the Bulldogs belted them by 115 points.

Griffen spoke on Melbourne radio station SEN the day after the game and his comments have been reported widely.

"I knew he'd be stressed, because he really is a good kid," Eade said.

"At the same time, you don't want to take their character away - you'd like them to be honest, but it was more a selection of words that was perhaps inappropriate."

Eade also dismissed any suggestion that Richmond would use Griffen's comments as ammunition when they meet again in round 18.

"If you need that, that means the other weeks you're not totally on the ball," he said.

"That will be good because that will focus us heavily - I suppose it gives us plenty of warning, 17 weeks, and we can look forward to that."

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