Jeff Gieschen.

Jeff Gieschen. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson's request for new rules to discourage players seeking high-contact free-kicks has been countered by the AFL.

AFL director of umpiring Jeff Gieschen said if his department detected a trend of players trying to "milk" free-kicks it would approach the club, or clubs, to discuss the issue.

But it has not felt compelled to act so far this season. It has also not received a formal complaint from Hawthorn, whose coach Clarkson said West Coast players had contributed to high-contact free-kicks.

While Clarkson said after Saturday night's match in Perth he would like to see the rules changed, Gieschen said umpires were already empowered to decline high-contact free-kicks if they believed the recipient was unduly seeking the free-kick.

"Our umpires need to be really diligent and vigilant about players who try and milk them [free-kicks], blatantly try and drop at the knees . . . or put their head down and bore through," he said yesterday.

"One of the things we have done is we've made where players take the ball, or are in pursuit of the ball, and just put their head down and drive towards their stationary opponent we're calling play-on.

"That's one of the things that's come out of the fact we do protect the ball-player and we do protect the head. When that occurs, you're going to have some people try and take advantage of that. We've certainly got to be across that, and I think the umpires have handled that situation very well."

Gieschen theorised the incidence of high-contact free-kicks had increased because players were no longer taught to tackle around opponents' hips and instead were often instructed to target between their chest and shoulders.

"It stands to reason the higher you go with your tackle the more likelihood that if you make a little mistake, you're going to go too high, or if the player tries to shrug the tackle or change direction and he stops and pivots, there's every likelihood that that outstretched [tackling] arm at chest-level could go high."