A low pressure system is moving through the AFL landscape, caused by a controversial new rule combined with stricter exchange restrictions and longer games

Steve Hocking’s attempt to open up footpaths, speed up the game and increase the score is already having a significant impact

“What I’m going to say is it’s a different game,” said Damien Hardwick after Richmond’s six-point pre-season win over Collingwood on Friday night

“It looks different and we’ll work on it a little and see if we have to work our way through”

According to Hardwick, the preparation games so far have been a few small numbers within the 1950s and extremely low numbers in the teams’ pressure indicators

Many experts have pointed out the new “stand” rule, which prohibits players on the badge from moving in any direction as the main reason for the less inhibited ball movement of teams that are in possession

However,

Collingwood trainer Nathan Buckley believes that lowering the upper limit on alternate rotations from 90 to 75 is an even bigger factor The impact on player fatigue is compounded by the return to standard length quarters this season

“Richmond would consider themselves to be one of the better print sites out there and our numbers are generally pretty good in this area, but they were as low as anything you would have seen (on Friday night),” Buckley said

“It was a very open game, but it will be a good five or six weeks before we know exactly where the game will settle

“We’re all talking about the man on the mark, but 75 spins with an additional 20 minutes of footy will be the biggest test as all of us who play haven’t played a normal length game for almost 18 months”

Buckley said fans can expect a season of “real change and change” in the way the game is played as clubs, football departments and players adapt to a range of circumstances brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic

“2020 was a really tough year and we did it and had shorter preparation (for this season),” said Buckley

“The soft cap for footy programs has been lowered by 40 percent, so the staff-to-player ratio is very different from what it was

“The games are now back to full length and we’re spinning less, so there are a lot of changes to the game

“There are some rule changes that are designed to speed it up and make it more open and offensive So there are many different factors

“The coaches and playgroups that get it right will get a kickstart early”

Richmond v Collingwood

World news – AU – Hardwick says AFL is now a “different game”

Source: https://thewest.com.au/sport/afl/richmond-coach-damien-hardwick-says-new-rule-has-forced-different-game-in-afl-season-2021-ng-b881814135z