The AFL is preparing for a three-week “pre-season” and more innovative changes when the all clear is given for the game to resume.
AFL general manager of football operations Steve Hocking told AFL.com.au a mini pre-season – but no practice games – was in the works.
“One of the things put forward was a pre-season of three weeks, and no practice matches, to get going again,” Hocking said.
“We are very appreciative of the flexibility and agility shown and demonstrated by the clubs.
“What was put forward was three to four weeks. If there was a postponement that went to later in the year, then the four weeks would kick in, but it is not going to be any later than that.
“In the early phases, it would be three (weeks).
“… the lack of practice matches – people might call that out, but they will be able to do match sim(ulation), and so forth amongst their squads.
“But everyone gets to the start line, all the same.”
The AFL is determined to remain flexible in the face of the unpredictable pandemic. Hocking said the league was open to the idea of additional bench players, and even a revival of the substitute player.
“It is certainly one of the things put forward by the key decision-makers,” Hocking said.
“Getting round one away was a real credit to everybody. The decisions before that to shorten the quarters, to keep rotations at 90, and also to lengthen the time post-goals to allow access to trainers and water carriers, all the feedback to that has been exceptional.
“We’ve got a good body of evidence from round one that sets us up to move forward … round one is what we will take forward at this point in time.
“…what this downtime, or pause on the game, has provided us with is an opportunity as an industry to think differently.
“It’s such a different season compared to any other year. The certainty that normally is in place and the rigidity of programming, people prosper off it, thrive off it.
“This season, the team that wins the premiership is going to be an amazing team because there is so much they are going to have to work through.
“The agility and flexibility and open-mindedness to what they are going to face is going to be critical to land the premiership.”