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Players get 10-metre protection zone as AFL locks down rules

AFL 2015 NAB Challenge - West Coast v Fremantle
Players will have a 10-metre protected area this season after taking a mark
The ability of teams to move the ball has improved with the larger protected area
Mark Evans

THE PROTECTED area around the mark will be set at 10 metres this season after being successful trialled during the first three weeks of the NAB Challenge.

AFL football operations manager Mark Evans confirmed the change had received broad support from clubs during consultations in the past two weeks and would be in place for the final week of the NAB Challenge. 

"It is the general view that the ability of teams to move the ball has improved with the larger protected area," Evans said.

"The focus of the umpiring department will continue to be to ensure it is adjudicated consistently."

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge and Melbourne's coach-in-waiting Simon Goodwin backed the move after Sunday's game with coaches saying it allows players to move the ball back into the corridor more easily.

Geelong's Friday night clash with Collingwood at Simonds Stadium in February turned into a shoot-out with 39 goals scored, the highest goals tally in a pre-season game in the 2000s.

Evans said the stricter adjudication of tackles and deliberate out of bounds had been a positive change.

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"Both interpretations … have had good support and we have seen that tackling techniques have altered significantly," Evans said.

The interchange will return to four players with the interchange cap set at 90 rotations per team per game this season.

In the final weekend of the NAB Challenge clubs will be allowed six players on the bench but the cap will be set at 90.