BRISBANE veteran Luke Hodge has urged the AFL to revisit new restrictions on runners which he fears will lead to younger teams conceding bursts of goals and suffering heavy losses.
RUNNING MAN The runner who worked for nine AFL clubs
Under the new rules, team runners can only enter the playing surface after a goal has been kicked and water carriers aren't allowed on the field during live play in a bid to cut down the number of people on the field.
Greater Western Sydney runner Nick Maxwell came under scrutiny in 2017 for lingering in important areas of the ground and he wasn't alone in doing so, which led the AFL to act.
But Hodge has seen enough in early pre-season games to be alarmed at the consequences of going too far in limiting the role of the runner.
"I love that they're trying to limit the amount of times the runners are out there but I think you still have to give coaches a little bit of leeway so it's not a shambles out there," Hodge told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.
"That will affect the look of the game as well if you've got 18 players thinking 18 different things ... it's not a good look for the game.
"I think if the AFL are (mindful) of the look of the game then having younger teams getting beaten by eight or 10 goals in a quarter because they can't change their structure or have someone out there to settle it down ... it's probably going to go against what they were looking for."
The League has already been forced into an embarrassing and costly backflip arising from the crackdown, with new digital interchange boards - thought to cost around $3000 each - ditched because they were too difficult to read.
Hodge believes allowing each team a quota of runner entries, on top of after goals, will solve the problem.
"I think maybe if they cap it at 10 a quarter at least then teams that aren't as experienced it will probably be fairer for them as well," he said.
"They might have a two-minute limit to be out there and back.
"I think your 30 seconds after a goal you can run out there and give one message to one person then you're straight back off.
"Initially I thought it was a good idea, but having been through one game I think they might have to give a little bit more (runner access) for the players and coaches."
The League has already indicated it has no intention of changing the rules again before round one.