In 2019, there were two contentious decisions during the preliminary final as well as controversial decisions during the Giants’ round 15 match against Essendon when Giants defender Adam Kennedy appeared to touch the ball off Essendon Shaun McKernan’s boot late in a tight game. Collingwood’s Chris Mayne also touched the ball off Fremantle forward Michael Walters’ boot during the third quarter of their round 11 match but the goal was awarded and the Dockers won by four points.
Hocking was confident the technology was sufficient but allowing players to challenge touches off the boot may give reviewers more time to take a second look if required to maximise their chances of making the right decision. He said challenges would not extend beyond goal scoring decisions.
“What we have to be mindful of is taking our time with it and not rushing to where other sports are where all of a sudden we are reviewing officiating as part of that well, so incremental change is really important to condition the industry for that,” Hocking said.
“Whether it is one, two or three challenges that is to be decided.”
Former Western Bulldogs premiership defender Dale Morris made the suggestion of a cricket-style review system on The Oval Office in July saying players should be able to tell the captain to review a decision with teams allowed one challenge per quarter.
“You get one review a quarter and if you get it right you keep that one,” Morris said.
AFL CEO Gill McLachlan then flagged the shift in grand final week after the preliminary final debacle nearly cost the Giants a spot in the decider.
“I think, the way cricket have done it, is very effective. They have put the responsibility on the players to say ‘yeah’ or call, so if there were two calls on that (Keeffe decision), as an example, put the responsibility back on the players to say: ‘Yeah, I touched that’,” he said.
“Then you give it time to review it properly in a different environment. So we have got to look at different systems to make sure they are a better chance of getting it right. Getting it wrong is unacceptable and we take that responsibility.”
There is also likely to be a slight loosening of the runner restrictions while the AFL is continuing to look at the right pre-season structure.
Hocking also said rule changes would be minimal from here on to guard against over-complication.
“When I came into this role I clearly set up a game analysis team. What we have done since the season has finished we have actually evolved that team into a competition evolution team,” Hocking said.
Rob Auld has been appointed head of competition management to manage potential changes around the game such as tinkering with the pre-season and game day operations.
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.