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McLachlan invites AFL coaches over for a homely chat

Gillon McLachlan has asked all 18 senior coaches to his home for an informal chat.

Gillon McLachlan has asked all 18 senior coaches to his home for an informal chat. Photo: Joe Armao

Debate over the need for official accreditation and a desire to have a more constructive say in the growth and well-being of the game will be discussed by senior club coaches when they meet AFL chief Gillon McLachlan on Monday night.

In what is an unprecedented move, McLachlan, as revealed on The Footy Show, has asked all 18 senior coaches to his home in Melbourne for an informal chat as he seeks to foster a greater relationship with some of the game's most important figures.

There is no formal agenda, but several issues will be addressed. Interim AFL Coaches Association chief Mark Brayshaw will also attend the gathering, with about a dozen coaches expected to be available to attend.

"It's a terrific initiative and the coaches are very grateful that Gill has asked them into his home. There are 10 or 11 at this stage, including a couple from outside Victoria, who are able to come," Brayshaw said on Friday. "It's difficult to find an ideal time. This is not quite ideal but there is a majority of the coaches in attendance.

"Gill and Mark Evans have invited us for the purpose of talking and meeting and working out how best we can help each other and collaborate to optimise the growth and well-being of the game, given that there are some changes at the CA and there, obviously, have been some changes at headquarters."

With the split round 18 starting next week, giving some coaches more free time, it was felt this was the best time to hold the meeting.

Melbourne coach Paul Roos and Essendon counterpart Mark Thompson will not attend because of television commitments.

In wake of the Essendon supplements saga, Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson on the eve of the season raised the issue of coaches requiring formal accreditation. Those in favour of the process point to the fact that coaches in several European sports require such paperwork.

Under the Clarkson blueprint, which he also outlined in a frank presentation to the AFL Commission, the suspended James Hird would not have been allowed to coach the Bombers without AFL accreditation and at least two years' coaching experience, sparking an angry response from Bombers chairman Paul Little.

Clarkson told Fairfax Media in February: ''We need to ensure [the Essendon supplements scandal] never happens in our game again. What have we learned? What have coaches learned about their obligations and responsibilities to young men? What have clubs learned? What have junior coaches learned?

''Hirdy needs accreditation to coach under nines but not an AFL footy team. It really concerns me that the game doesn't protect itself in the way, say, the teaching industry does.''

Just how coaches can make a constructive and sensible contribution to major AFL issues has also emerged as an important issue, in particular how they can gain consensus when coaches do not always agree with each other. One such issue is the interchange rule, with several coaches in favour of not having it capped.

The AFLCA executive this week met with umpires boss Wayne Campbell and game analysis manager Joel Bowden.

McLachlan said earlier this year he would speak to the coaches about playing more exciting football, in wake of public frustration with the rolling mauls and indirect, high-possession style some teams have adopted. One aspect of the just-released AFL charter says a guiding principle for the laws of the game is "continuous and free-flowing football is encouraged ahead of repetitive short passages of play".

Coaches are represented on the laws of the game committee by Rodney Eade, a former senior coach and now Collingwood's director of coaching.

Brayshaw, who has replaced Danny Frawley, could yet remain in the the top job but it is understood discussions about just who should take on the role permanently will not begin until after the official AFL financial year ends on October 31.

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