Worth trying: Kevin Sheedy. Photo: Anthony Johnson
AFL legend and lateral thinker Kevin Sheedy has proposed the AFL borrow from the old VFA style and abandon the wings to play with 16 men on the ground.
Sheedy has suggested the AFL trial the rule in the NAB Cup next season to see if the change can help reintroduce the long kick and high contested marking.
"I would not mind having a look at no wings in the NAB Cup next year," he said on K-Rock radio.
The VFA played for nearly 50 years with only 16 on the ground, playing with no players on the wings.
"I think that is something you can look at, just open up a bit of space and just have a look and see what that would do. It’s not different to putting freeways in the city is it? Get around the congestion.
"You don’t have to change a rule there, all you have to do is take four players off the ground. No rule changes, just take four off the ground and put them on the bench and you might run with six on the bench and have no subs. Just try that in the NAB Cup. Keep adjusting your thinking for this season.
"If I am wrong, tell me. But I think there are two areas that are a concern. So have a look. Don’t panic, don’t rush and then let's try and see if we did open it up. Would you get long kicking and high marking instead of short, 15-to-20-metre passing?”
Sheedy said the next changes to the game should be considered to be alterations that would mould the game for the next quarter of a century, so the AFL should be slow and measured in its response.
But he said there needed to be some change as the game had devolved into a chipping game that borrowed from other sports.
"The thing you don’t see these days, and the thing that a lot of people I have spoken to in general have said, there are too many around the ball and there is no real good long kicking and high marking. They were features of our game that we always felt were hallmarks of the game.
"So we chip, chip, chip like soccer players, but we are able to hold it with our hands. When there is a stoppage - because the coaches of sides that don’t have great sides want the stoppages to shut down the better teams - then we throw a bit of rugby in."