COLLINGWOOD coach Nathan Buckley has called on the AFL to allow teams to make extra interchanges on extremely hot days in the interests of player welfare in the wake of the difficulties experienced by St Kilda and the Adelaide teams at the weekend.
Buckley said he expected ''common sense will prevail'' and that the rules would be adjusted by the AFL. He said player welfare should be ''first and foremost'' among considerations.
His St Kilda counterpart, Scott Watters, called for a review of the heat policy for the NAB Cup, in which the interchange cap of 80 a game is being trialled.
''We obviously care for the welfare of our players and … I reckon [the AFL Players Association] would look pretty strongly at it over the next couple of days,'' said Buckley, whose Magpies have a bye this week but will play West Coast in Perth in the second round the following week.
Buckley said he understood the AFL's desire to take a close look at the cap on rotations and that it was ''trying to make it as realistic as possible with a three-and-one interchange bench''.
''But if we're playing in 35 degree-plus conditions - whether it's Collingwood or any other teams - I think there is a duty of care to the playing group to make sure that we shuffle things a little bit to make sure that players aren't under undue duress at this stage of the season.
''I'm sure the AFL and the PA will come to an arrangement and I'd be surprised if we didn't see some movement to support the welfare of players. Moving the time of games is a consideration but I can understand the broadcasting relationship as well there …
''If you're trying to take statistics from a 38-degree day, with a three-and-one bench and a cap of 20 rotations, that's not going to happen very often in June, or very often in home and away. So you're not working off a level playing field anyway.''
Asked whether the current situation endangered players, Buckley said: ''It's not a smooth progression in their training. In the end, we'll abide by whatever is decided. We're one club of 18 and we'll play anywhere we need to under any circumstances to prepare ourselves for the home and away, first and foremost, but also we want to win games of footy. We'll play to whatever rules they set.
''I think common sense will prevail and we may also be jumping at shadows. We may not get a game that needs to have a heat policy activated. I thought it was quite effective when it was used in the past and generally adding the extra couple of players to the interchange bench just gives each club more flexibility to deal with players that may encounter extreme duress at different stages of a match.''
Buckley said midfielder Luke Ball was unlikely to play against the Eagles as he had not yet resumed full training. He was one of the players returning from injury - with Dale Thomas, Tyson Goldsack and Alex Fasolo - listed as missing for three-to-five weeks.
Fasolo had a sore foot before Christmas and had his load lightened. ''He's been fantastic - he's very keen to get going.''
Buckley said he had been pleased with the Magpies' first NAB Cup outing, beating the Western Bulldogs and Essendon.
''[There were] some elements of the game that we're particularly pleased with and some other elements that we need to put some work into. Some individuals performed really well. So overall it was quite encouraging.''
But Buckley would not buy into the first clash with Carlton coach Mick Malthouse. ''We've got North Melbourne in round one and any lack of focus on our first opponent would set us up for a fall.''