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Coaches want shorter JLT series next year

Captains unite, Roughy's rule A special extended edition of Footy Feed with Nat Edwards and Matt Thompson

A SIGNIFICANT portion of AFL coaches have questioned the length of the JLT Community Series, using a breakfast meeting with AFL CEO Gill McLachlan on Thursday to push for a shorter pre-season competition.

All 18 coaches met with the League chief at 7am at Richmond's Punt Road Oval base, where McLachlan presented to them on the recent success and future ambitions of the game.

While there was a spirit of cooperation in building the game and attracting new fans, the coaches were keen to raise their concerns with McLachlan on aspects of the JLT Community Series.

Roughly half of the 18 coaches wanted to see the competition shortened, while many had concerns about access to appropriate facilities early in the series, which started on February 16 this year.

There was widespread consensus about the importance of taking the game to country regions, which remained a focus of the competition in 2017.

For the third straight year, the pre-season competition was run over 24 days, with last year's series starting on February 18.

The cricket World Cup delayed the start of the season in 2015, meaning a later than usual pre-season competition, starting on February 26 but still stretching over 24 days.

The format for the JLT Community Series is likely to be an ongoing discussion point at AFL House after the successful introduction of the AFLW League and investigations into future fixturing models such as the 17-5 format.

As part of his presentation on Thursday morning, McLachlan told the group that of the 30 most influential people in the game, 18 of them were the AFL's senior coaches.

The CEO highlighted the success of the inaugural AFLW season and the League's desire to grow the game's support and participation, including among new migrants.

Coaches also raised their long-running concerns about the football department soft cap, which has restricted investment among richer clubs in assistant coaches and other support staff.

The coaches also held their association's annual general meeting on Thursday, where West Coast assistant Adrian Hickmott was awarded the Phil Walsh Scholarship.