The AFL is likely to recommend the introduction of the proposed ‘‘six-six-six’’ format at centre bounces for the 2019 season and, in a more speculative possibility, has even looked at two goal squares inside an 18-metre area at each end.
These options are among proposed changes to the game expected to be discussed at an important meeting of the competition committee on Wednesday, when several potential rule changes will be canvassed and some recommendations made.
While a set-up of six players inside each 50-metre arc at both ends, four players in the centre square and two players outside the square has gained strong internal AFL support, the AFL’s game analysis group also has discussed different options for expanding the goal square, including one in which there would be ‘‘two squares’’ – the enlarged 18 metres x 18 metres one and the existing smaller one (nine metres in length).
Under this ‘‘two goal squares’’ concept – which might be too complex to be ultimately adopted – there would be two possible ways to kick in, one ‘‘slow’’ kick in following a set shot, when the player kicking in could use the whole enlarged 18m box; the other a ‘‘fast’’ kick out that would follow a scrambled score, such as a rushed behind or snap and with more players surrounding the ball.
Under the latter ‘‘fast’’ option, the player could use the current smaller goal square, to complete the kick in quickly. This would be taking into account the delay caused by clearing the larger box.
The expansion of the goal square – an idea pushed by AFL legend Malcolm Blight and which has been trialled – is a proposal that is understood to be much less agreed or settled upon than the ‘‘six, six, six’’ format that could be adopted for the 2019 season as a basic way to clear congestion.
The AFL has discussed a number of options for expanding the goal square or the kick-in area, as a means of clearing the defensive zones that have been set up by coaches and which have made it so difficult for teams to clear their defensive halves.
Under the ‘‘six, six, six’’ proposal – the biggest change to centre bounces since the introduction of the centre square – each team would be forced to have six players inside of the 50-metre arcs at both ends. The centre square set-ups would remain at four players per side, with two per team – wingers, effectively – outside the square and between the arcs. Under the likely recommendation, which has been developed by the AFL’s game analysis group and trialled by clubs, those two ‘‘wingers’’ could be stationed anywhere, including on the back of the centre square, giving the coaches some flexibility for tactical placements.
If adopted – and it would have to be approved by the competition committee and then ratified by the AFL Commission later this year – this ‘‘six-six-six’’ set up for centre bounces would constitute a muted form of ‘‘starting positions’’, compared with the more radical concept of having a smaller number of players (between two and four) forced to stay in the arcs at all stoppages.
‘‘Six-six-six’’ is considered more palatable to the players and coaches, judged by the feedback that has surrounded the bold changes that have been initiated by the AFL’s forthright new football boss Steve Hocking, who told The Age on Monday that some recommendations on rule changes would be made at Wednesday's meeting.
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