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Runners to change colours at Suns home games

Mark Macgugan  April 10, 2013 8:16 PM

AFL 2013 NAB Cup Rd 01 - Western Bulldogs v Collingwood

Bulldogs runner Brent Prismall in action earlier this year

I'm hoping you might see something different up at Metricon Stadium this week if we can, but I'll leave the colour in suspense
TEAM runners are set to wear different uniforms in Gold Coast home games, with new AFL football operations boss Mark Evans taking action to avoid a colour clash.

The similarity between the Suns' red uniform and the runners' orange marred the round one fixture between the home team and St Kilda at Metricon Stadium.

On several occasions players appeared to have trouble distinguishing between the two, while spectators also experienced confusion.

It is a fact Evans, in just his second week in the role, has acknowledged and set about changing in time for this week's clash between Gold Coast and the Brisbane Lions.

But Evans is yet to declare what the alternative runners' colour will be.

"I'd never noticed it before, but I'd say in that game there were a couple of clear examples where players kicked towards a runner," he told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Wednesday evening.

"I'm hoping you might see something different up at Metricon Stadium this week if we can, but I'll leave the colour in suspense."

Evans also left the door open for a review of the Tribunal guidelines around head clashes, and the controversial 'shrugging' tactic used by some players to win head-high free kicks.

The head clash issue came to the fore in round one when North Melbourne forward Lindsay Thomas was cleared of wrongdoing by the Match Review Panel after he clashed heads with Collingwood's Ben Reid while laying a bump, resulting in Reid having to be subbed out of the game.

Evans said the MRP made the right decision under this year's rules, but conceded those rules may be sending mixed messages about the AFL's attitude towards head injuries.

"In this year's Tribunal guidelines DVD, there are two head clashes in bumps that say the player could not reasonably foresee an accidental head clash," he said.

"Whether that guideline and direction is correct or not is up for debate, but the Match Review Panel have called it correctly according to the guidelines they've been given.

"We're asking coaches and players to understand that we want a stricter assessment of concussive injury…so I can imagine why people would have some confusion with the messages they've heard about the bump rule.

"I would think that that is going to come under some review as a normal course of things."

On the shrugging tactic, Evans said it was something he was interested in looking at.

"I think it will be [on the agenda] at some stage from a discussion point of view," he said.

"I'm not sure what work has been done in that area, and I'm not sure how umpires are coached in that area.

"One thing we do have to remember is when we give an interpretation of a rule, we have to coach umpires in what to look for…and there's also difficulty in communicating it to the people who are watching.

"So I don't have the answer for you straight away."

And following Sunday's outcry over rain falling on an open-roofed Etihad Stadium during Geelong's win over North Melbourne, Evans said it was not within his power to impose a blanket closed roof policy, as suggested by the teams' respective coaches Chris and Brad Scott.

But, he said he would investigate whether it would be possible to close the roof during matches in the event of changed weather.

"The debate I would like to see raised within our football operations team is, do we have the capacity, for instance at half-time, to shut the roof if the weather was to change?" Evans said.

"If you're talking about whether we should play permanently at the stadium with a shut roof, that's not for football operations by itself; that would be a wider AFL decision."

On Tuesday, League CEO Andrew Demetriou said he was against closing the roof for all matches.