AFL weighs up reduced pre-season to negate injuries

The league has not released any fresh data but The Age last month reported the overall injury rate had spiked by 20 per cent last year.

“If you have a look at how many players have ended up injured during the February period, that’s a concern for the industry,” said Hocking, after chairing the competition committee’s first meeting for 2019 in Melbourne on Wednesday.

“We’ve got to get better at that and make sure they get the ideal preparation leading into a season so we’ve got the best players available to play the best games.

“The industry actually plugs a lot of events right through from induction camps, community camps, indigenous camps. We’ve now got AFLX as well.

“We just need to step back from that and understand what a future pre-season looks like and how do we not disrupt players from their loading phase. We’ll do that work over the next six to eight months and see where we land.”

Hocking has asked club high-performance managers to evaluate options and report back to the committee, which includes players, coaches, club presidents and other officials.

Each team currently plays two formal pre-season games but clubs have also used informal practice matches to prepare their players.

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan, who also sits on the committee, said there was no sure way to prevent players from getting hurt in the pre-season.

“Us coaches, we just hold our breath during the months of February and March that we don’t get those injuries. But you can’t avoid them,” he said.

“You need to practice contact otherwise you’re not ready.”


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