Cousins future could hinge on bench call - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cousins future could hinge on bench call

By Adam Cooper 29/07/2010 05:11:28 PM Comments (0)

Ben Cousins' chances of playing another season could hinge on what the AFL decides about interchange moves, according to Richmond coach Damien Hardwick.

Hardwick said the Tigers wanted to know quickly what the league had in mind in restricting rotations as it affected what decision Richmond made on some players.

Under present rules, where there is no limit on the number of times sides can bring players on and off, players can be used in short bursts.

But Hardwick admitted putting a cap on interchanges could have an impact on whether the Tigers offered Cousins, 32, another season.

"It may do. That's something we'll have to weigh up and that's why we like to know earlier rather than later," he said.

The AFL's laws of the game committee plans to meet next month to discuss the issue, and the league has indicated a cap of 100 interchanges per game would slow the game and reduce injuries.

Sides average about 115 interchanges per game this season, but Hawthorn made 156 player swaps during their draw with St Kilda last Friday night.

Hardwick said he had no preference either way on a cap or an unrestricted interchange, but wanted a speedy resolution so the Tigers could begin planning.

The issue affected the sort of players Richmond would recruit, or in Cousins' case, retain, as Hardwick said the decision could have an impact on the length of careers.

"There's no doubt it's a possibility," he said.

"The four interchange players has allowed you to play guys a little bit older, but the speed of the game can also take that away.

"It's on a knife edge either way from our point of view, and all we want to do is be informed about which way it's going."

Cousins has played 27 games in two seasons for Richmond after 238 for West Coast.

North Melbourne coach Brad Scott joined the chorus condemning a cap on rotations, ridiculing the idea as one which would produce "a circus."

Scott said the AFL had presented North with evidence which he described as "flimsy at best" relating increased interchanges to more injuries.

"We could get into a situation where it's really, really messy," he said.

"If we pluck an arbitrary figure of 80 rotations per game, which is 20 a quarter, and if we get to the 25 minute mark in a quarter and we've had our 20 rotations and there's a guy limping around in the forward pocket, what do we do?

"Do we take him off, do we leave him on, if we take him off what penalty do we get for going over our 20?

"If they allow for an injury, what's an injury? He could get a knock (and) we're not sure whether he's injured or not...

"I think it will be an absolute nightmare for clubs, for officials.

"You think the interchange is chaotic now - you bring in caps on interchanges and it could be a complete circus down there.

"Other codes have caps on interchanges but they also have time-outs and injury time and we don't have any of that."

Fremantle coach Mark Harvey said restricting the number of interchanges could hurt a travelling side.

But West Coast coach John Worsfold, who coached Cousins for much of his career, supported a cap.

"Earlier in the year I was of the belief that if you cap the interchanges at about 80 that would allow for the game the way we're seeing it," Worsfold said.

"And that was really from a spectator point of view, players playing in one position for longer so you get those good old fashioned match-ups.

"Two wingers on each other for longer periods and that sort of thing."

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