DARWIN, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07: Jordan Lewis of the Demons argues with an umpire during the round 16 AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Fremantle Dockers at TIO Stadium on July 7, 2018 in Darwin, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

AFL umpire coach Hayden Kennedy has said that umpires will be paying free kicks for any on-field punch in 2019.

It comes following increased talk of implementing a red card system for serious offences.

Kennedy spoke to the Herald Sun about the thinking behind the move and how it will be adjudicated.

“That is the instruction this year, if we see any player using a fist in a striking motion,” he said.

“That is going to be difficult at times because a player might turn his back on us or an umpire now be sure if a fist is used, but instruction is not to accept a strike at all.”

The AFL has been looking to stamp out punches of any kind in recent years, with suspensions being handed down for jumper punches.

The zero-tolerance policy will come in because of players continuing to get away with ‘low-level’ punches and will be introduced along with the competition’s nine new rules.