The return of the sub? Carlton fitness guru Andrew Russell is all for it.
Russell has called for the AFL to implement two additional substitutes to the four-man bench upon the season’s return to limit the burnout on players, with more games expected under a reduced time frame.
With the league sticking to their 153-game schedule despite the COVID-19 outbreak, measures have been put into place or floated to ensure the season can be completed after the AFL’s round one suspension. One such implementation has been the 16 minute quarters to reduce game time.
However, with the game schedule set to be condensed due to lost time, Russell has suggested that clubs have access to two substitutes to reduce in-game risks and help the players deal with an increased workload.
The substitute was previously used from 2011 to 2015, with one extra player available to be subbed on as part of the four-man interchange bench.When a player got subbed off, he was unable to return to the game.
“How far we can push them, none of us really know,” Russell told AFL Media.
“We’re all hypothesising, but (the shorter game time) does change it dramatically and we can take some more risks.
“We can do certain things when we get back and I’d like to see one or two subs that allow us to actually manage our players during a game.
“A lot of the time within an AFL game, you’ll get to the second half and you’ll have a decision to make with between one and three players.
“Do you leave them out there to enable you to win the game, stay in the game or get back in the game, but knowing if you keep them out there you could lose them for one, two or three weeks? We make those judgement calls all the time.
“It would be fantastic if some of the best players like Patrick Cripps are struggling and we can say, ‘let’s get him out of the game to ensure we get him back in four days’ time’. Otherwise we’ll let him play the whole game and we might miss him for three weeks.
“I think that flexibility is going to be super important, because we do string players out and we do take big risks with players every week. Reducing that in-game risk, I think that will be important.”