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AFL's excess player rule to be altered

By Sam Lienert 30/04/2008 06:32:23 PM Comments (0)

The AFL will introduce new rules to stop excess players taking the field after admitting the current system is outdated.

Sydney was fined $50,000 - half of that suspended - for having 19 players on the field when they levelled the scores late in Sunday's draw with North Melbourne.

The league's interchange stewards and the emergency umpire both knew an extra player took the field for the Swans, but were powerless to act.

Under current rules, the only person who can take action is the opposition captain, who can call for a head count, an antiquated rule which is impractical in the modern game.

The Kangaroos and Swans have both called for change, with AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson quick to agree the responsibility had to be taken out of captains' hands.

"The mechanism that exists and has existed, which we now believe to be outmoded and we will be changing, is for a captain to call a count," Anderson said.

"We will be changing these rules to make sure that this situation can not evolve in the future, or if it does, that further on-field sanctions can apply in addition to what can apply at the moment."

Sydney coach Paul Roos suggested an immediate penalty against a side that fielded an extra player.

"If you have an extra player in the NFL, the umpire throws his flag and there's a penalty and you march back 10 metres for an illegal man on the field, so maybe that's the way," Roos said.

Anderson said the AFL would consider an equivalent rule, such as awarding a free kick or a free shot for goal.

"That's one option we are looking at," he said.

"We will consider a variety of options to make sure that our rules are in keeping with the way that the interchange has evolved over the years."

Kangaroos president James Brayshaw was fuming over Anderson's statement that his club could have prevented the situation by calling for a head count, part of the AFL's justification for not stripping the Swans of premiership points.

"I think what he should be saying to us privately is, `Thank God you didn't call for a head count because how embarrassing would that have been,'" Brayshaw told SEN radio.

"The thing I railed against a bit last night was the AFL coming out and saying North Melbourne could have done something about it and they didn't.

"What we could have done, I think, would have been horrifically embarrassing to the competition."

But Anderson said he had not intended to imply that North should have stepped in.

"I've made very clear to the Kangaroos today I'm not criticising the Kangaroos for not doing so," he said.

"That's a perfectly legitimate choice for them.

"But the option under the rules as it stands at the moment for a match to be altered is for the captain to call for a count.

"It's relevant in the consideration of the matter that they did not invoke that."

Anderson said it remained open to the league to strip clubs of premiership points in the future if they infringed.

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