Hawthorn Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson flags 16-a-side rethink


“We have to consider pulling some levers on the game. One of the charters of the game is we wanted to retain 18 v 18. If defences have become so sophisticated in being able to use 18 men to defend, I wonder if they could defend as well with 16. Probably not.”

He said if those changes weren’t favoured, umpiring interpretations could be tweaked to open up play.

“It’s not about trying to get it back to that. Is it, [do] we go 16-a-side, do we employ zones? If we don’t do any of those two things, then we probably need to look at the way the game’s officiated and say to ourselves: ‘How can we reduce the congestion?'”

“Do we reward holding the ball more regularly, so we don’t have three, four or five stoppages in a row where as many as 20 players get to that area of the ground and congest it?

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“It’s not going to take one coach … there’s no one that’s going to be a maverick like that and retain their status in the game as a coach if they just consistently lose.

“It needs to be something the competition mandates, in my view.”

Clarkson said there was still excitment in the current game, however.

“The excitement … in the game now is who can break out of the bubble, like Brisbane, then have it spit into space so Charlie Cameron can sprint ahead of everyone else, get the footy and kick a scintillating goal. That’s about the only genuine excitement that we’re seeing in our game at the moment,” he said.



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