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Interchange cap could be an issue for Fremantle

Peter Ryan  October 1, 2013 7:00 AM

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Lee Spurr of Fremantle is tackled by Paul Puopolo during the Grand Final


FREMANTLE will need to find a way to sustain its defensive pressure when the interchange cap of 120 rotations per game is introduced in 2014.   

The Dockers averaged the most interchanges per game during 2013, topping the table with 146 per game.

Freo was one of five AFL clubs that topped the 140-interchange average mark during 2013 ahead of Adelaide (144.1), Greater Western Sydney (142), Hawthorn (141.7) and Geelong (140.7). 

Fremantle did not have fewer than 146 interchanges per game from round 19 until it reached the Grand Final. 

However, in the Grand Final it made just 129 interchanges, its third lowest single tally for the season.  

The Dockers had 163 interchanges in both round 20 and round 22 as they tried to share the load leading into the finals series. 

Funnily enough the Hawks – who had 130 rotations in the Grand Final – did not have a game past round 18 where they recorded more than 145 interchanges as they prepared for the decider. 

Geelong averaged 151 interchanges through the finals series, stepping it up from round 19, topping 150 interchanges in seven of its last eight games for the season. 

During the finals series the clubs averaged 136 interchanges per game, although the Sydney Swans had just 102 rotations in the second semi-final when they beat Carlton. On that night they lost both Kurt Tippett and Tom Mitchell early to injury. 

No team in the competition averaged fewer than 120 interchanges during 2013. 

West Coast was at the bottom of the table with 123.4 rotations per game. 

The new interchange cap will allow 120 interchanges to be made during playing time plus changes at the end of each quarter. 

It means the Grand Final figures of 129 interchanges to the Dockers and 130 to Hawthorn will be about the upper limit. 

Lions look to altitude training to prepare for interchange cap

It's remarkable to see the growth in interchange numbers since the 2005 Grand Final. 

In the 2005 decider that was decided by four points, the Swans had 63 interchanges to the Eagles 46. 

In 2006 it was 68 to 66 between the competing teams, then 79 to 77, 82 to 81 before 92 to 88 in 2009. 

Collingwood and St Kilda both cracked the ton in 2010 with 120 (Collingwood) to 112 (St Kilda) in the draw before it became 130 (Collingwood) to 107 (St Kilda) in the replay. 

In 2011, Geelong had 134 rotations to Collingwood's 127. In each of the seven Grand Finals between 2005 and 2011, the team that had the most interchange rotations won. 

The Sydney Swans reversed that trend when it had 113 interchanges to Hawthorn's 132 and still won the game.  

Of course, the Hawks had 130 in the Grand Final to win. 

The change won't worry the Grand Final coaches Alastair Clarkson and Ross Lyon too much. 

Both are always ahead of the curve and have teams that have showed they can play four quarters. 

But the interchange cap is just another element Fremantle can add to the mix to show reaching a Grand Final next year is no certainty. 

Lyon knows there are no guarantees in football. 

"We're a list that can grow. Going to be some change that comes pretty quickly as well, injuries and form and attitude all go into the mix. There are no guarantees here but I am really expectant that they will commit to the work again because we have got some belief and momentum. But there are some great teams out there," Lyon said.