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Naitanui gets the jump on his rivals

Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui soars over his opponent at a centre bounce.

Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui soars over his opponent at a centre bounce. Photo: Paul Rovere

ON THE day when the AFL introduced a rule that banned contact between ruckmen until the ball had left the umpire's hand, a former senior coach reached the same conclusion as many others: He called it ''the Nic Naitanui rule''.

By that, he believes the the rule will be highly advantageous to West Coast's athletic ruckman, who can jump 205-centimetre opponents in a single bound.

''The new rule will go down as the Nic Naitanui rule,'' he said, recalling the advent of a small centre circle had conspired against another ruckman who relied on his leap, Melbourne's Jeff White, who no longer had the long run-up he needed for lift-off at centre bounces.

Naitanui's leap is so imposing that opponents have devised a range of tactics to prevent him from having a clear jump at the ball in centre bounces and ball-ups around the ground this year. Sydney's Shane Mumford and Mike Pyke used a physical approach to successfully stymie his jump in round 16 that prompted Naitanui to complain that he was being illegally impeded.

But the new rule, in theory, should make it easier for Naitanui to jump, since his opponents cannot make contact until the umpire has released the ball. (And he will throw it up now in general play.) Centre bounces should change less, since ruckmen are not supposed to cross the line until the ball is bounced.

''It's going to favour taller ruckmen who can jump,'' said Carlton football operations head, Andrew McKay, who worked as the AFL's game analyst last year and was the conduit with the clubs and players on the rules.

''It's going to favour Naitanui and a [Robert] Warnock type who is taller and can jump a little bit.''

McKay reckons the motivation for the change is to improve the spectacle of ruck contests, since the AFL does not want excessive wrestling. ''The spectacle will be better … the new rule is purely aesthetics.''

If Naitanui will be harder to combat, as many believe, the corollary is that the wrasslin' rucks, such as Mumford and Darren Jolly, might need to revise their methods.

Jolly made it plain in February that he did not like the new rule when it was tested in the NAB Cup. ''I hope they don't bring in the stupid rule that they're trying to bring in now … because that's just a joke,'' he said, acknowledging the rule worked against physical ruckmen of his ilk.

Brad Ottens, like Jolly, was a consummate ''power'' ruckman who deployed his strength and considerable weight to overwhelm opponents in three premierships for the Cats. Ottens, who is a part-time ruck coach with the Cats, said the rule would probably favour the leapers like Naitanui and ''agile'' rucks generally, but the burly followers such as Jolly and Mumford were good enough to adapt.

''I think ball-ups are where it's going to affect things the most,'' he said.

Not everyone reckons the rule is made for Naitanui. One Victorian official said the key would be getting ''pole position'' for ball-ups and throw-ins.

''Whoever gets there first has a huge advantage,'' he said.

This wouldn't necessarily hand the jumper such a huge edge. But getting to position first meant the ruckmen had to move quickly. ''Ruckmen who can't run are in trouble,'' the official said.

There isn't a rule, trend or game style, mind you, that helps any player who struggles to run. The question is whether this one is devised for the ruck guys who can jump.

84 comments so far

  • Of course this will help at ball ups to the Nic Nat Rule, Just another way for the AFL to try and keep the premiership out of Victoia. I have no issues with the national competition, but at least have everyone on a level playing field. To introduce this rule in the middle of a draft period when clubs have already tried to identify their needs for the future shows clear rudderless management from the top. These things should be identified and introduced at least one year after announced to give clubs the opportunity to review the effect on their list. This should not come in to play until 2014 if it is going to. Dont agree with it anyway as I believe the holding the ball rule change / interpretation will eliminate a lot of the congestion.
    Does Demetriou know the meaning of Strategic planning. Because this looks like change on the run - again

    hawker of hobart
    Date and time
    October 17, 2012, 3:34PM
    • Seriously dude you are not watching the same game as the rest of us. The afl want nothing more than to have Victorian premiers if they wanted non vic teams to win they would force all vic teams to travel out of vic 8 times a year as there are 8 non vic teams, but no they left 5and 6 times this year which by the way is a record for any vic team. Even the Hawkes who left vic to play 4 home games in vic only played 4 non vic games this season. In 2006 the afl changed many rules that the likes of Brisbane, Sydney, west coast and port were major losers from the change, hence five years of vic team dominating the comp, you may have noticed that in this years gf Hawkes won free kicks 21 to 10 hence their extra scoring shots. That game was never meant to be won be the mighty swans. Afl want to build a national comp that gives non vic sides hope but one where they rarly win the cup, it is time vfl supporters relise it is a national comp and non vic sides who are disadvantage through travel and players not wanting to play for non vic clubs because there no fame, among much more.

      Date and time
      October 17, 2012, 4:33PM
    • What a load of cods-wallop

      The rules are the same for everyone. This is about the 10th excuse I've heard from a Hawks fan in recent weeks

      Need a tissue Mr Hawthorn supporter?

      Date and time
      October 17, 2012, 4:51PM
    • well andrew, you have really excelled here with your logic. if everyone played twice they would play home and away so would travel 8 times. but they dont. Sydney get 11 home games out of 22 which is very good for gate money as they keep the gate. All teams get 11 home games which is fair. Now if every vic team had to travel 8 times as you propose that would mean every interstate team would get 14-15 home games. National comp means travel mate. You are also well compensated getting the bye of GWS twice EVEN THO the AFL just said top 4 will only play bottom 4 once next year EXCEPT SYDNEY

      hawker of hobart
      Date and time
      October 17, 2012, 8:37PM
    • johnny johnny johnny - you miss the point. I am emphasising that the AFL are changing rules in the middle of a draft period after ALL clubs have set their strategy about recruiting. Now that changes with the new rule. I noted that there should be 12 months before the introduction. That would give ALL club the chance to recruit/develop players to counter the teams that already have the type of players suited to the new rule. There is no doubt sydney are disadvantaged by it. and the Perth sides are perfectly placed.

      hawker of hobart
      Date and time
      October 17, 2012, 8:40PM
    • Can anyone tell me if the new rule applies to boundary throw ins as well? This is where most of the physical stuff occurs. Cheers

      The Outer
      Date and time
      October 18, 2012, 2:08PM
    • @johnny, yes i do need a tissue. with the warmer weather ive had to forgo my michael tuck long sleever and ... well sniff sniff... what was sammy thinking? how did that ball not go through the goals from capt jacks boot? was cliffy young wearing long stops or did he just fall over? sob sob, i think a nice aloe vera scented tissue might just do the trick, for the moment anyway... Oh why, Oh why.

      200k north of Hawthorn
      Date and time
      October 18, 2012, 5:16PM
    • I'm all for the national competition but as a condition on enetering what was the VFL, there should be a moratorium on interstate tems winning the premiersip. As a St.Kilda supporter, who has never seen a Grand Final win, I can't help but do the maths of one flag in a 12 team competition over 90 odd years; now there are 18 we should be due in another 100 (given the 20 years of 14 and 16 teams). So we'll claim the '97 flag and Adelaide can just wait their bloody turn.

      Date and time
      October 19, 2012, 1:37AM
  • Mark Blake, all is forgiven, please come back and play in the AFL! The rule has been changed just for your type of player!

    Date and time
    October 17, 2012, 3:43PM
    • For all this talk of the 'Nic-Nat rule' and a 'years notice' being the requirement by the clubs, it seems the tall/ruck/KP is the minority at this draft, as it will be at any draft. Clubs draft who they can get their hands on, not their ideal choice for the changing style of AFL in 2-3 years time. A Leaping Ruckman, who would have ever thought ! It must be precious pumpkin time.

      Date and time
      October 18, 2012, 12:57PM

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AFL 2015

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STK 78 vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 Stats
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GEE 60 vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78 vs HAW 76 Stats
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COL 140 vs STK 66 Stats
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CAR 84 vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80 vs MEL 55 Stats
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NTH 105 vs PTA 113 Stats
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HAW 127 vs WBU 57 Stats
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WCE 81 vs FRE 111 Stats
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Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51 vs MEL 83 Stats
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STK 81 vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49 vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119 vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99 vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74 vs SYD 60 Stats
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BRI 65 vs WCE 118 Stats
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WBU 125 vs ADE 68 Stats
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CAR 45 vs COL 120 Stats
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RIC 76 vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73 vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118 vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70 vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120 vs GWS 33 Stats
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MEL 50 vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80 vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91 vs PTA 115 Stats
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COL 59 vs GEE 100 Stats
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NTH 109 vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87 vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108 vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78 vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50 vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80 vs ESS 52 Stats
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CAR 75 vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68 vs WCE 78 Stats
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Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82 vs NTH 93 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 119 vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155 vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57 vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120 vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135 vs GCF 43 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU 88 vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105 vs COL 100 Report Stats
BRI 102 vs PTA 65 Report Stats
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Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 140 vs CAR 63 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs WCE 131 Report Stats
GWS 108 vs ADE 84 Report Stats
GCF 63 vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69 vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115 vs NTH 42 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 136 vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103 vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
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Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STK 13:10G
COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
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CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
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GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
STK vs HAW 16:40ES
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MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
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Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
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COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 16:40ES
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Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
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RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
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GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
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Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
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SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
BRI vs ADE 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:20ES
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
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Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
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ESS vs STK 13:10ES
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
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Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
BRI vs SYD 16:40G
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Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
COL vs WCE 16:35ES
SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
STK vs RIC 16:40ES
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Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
BRI vs NTH 19:20G
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 13:10ES
MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs FRE 16:40ES
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Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK vs SYD 15:20ES
FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
BRI vs WBU 00:00G
PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
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AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 8 8 0 0 155.29 32
West Coast Eagles 8 6 2 0 158.17 24
Sydney Swans 8 6 2 0 127.36 24
GWS Giants 8 6 2 0 118.87 24
Collingwood 8 5 3 0 129.90 20
Adelaide Crows 8 5 3 0 116.32 20
Hawthorn 8 4 4 0 145.81 16
Richmond 8 4 4 0 107.64 16
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