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Lions, Dockers, Blues won't support rules trial

Are you ready for change? Wednesday Footy Feed with Matt Thompson

BRISBANE has joined Fremantle and Carlton in saying it would not support a trial of controversial proposed rule changes in-season.

It comes after coach Ross Lyon said on Wednesday he would be concerned at the club being "guinea pigs".

On Thursday afternoon Lions coach Chris Fagan, who is on the 12-strong Competition Committee, said he it would "chip away at the integrity of the game" if rules were trialled in premiership matches.

The Dockers' clash with Carlton at Optus Stadium in round 21 and the Lions' QClash with Gold Coast in round 22 looms as two of the three fixtures with no bearing on finals likely to be under consideration.

NEW RULES Six changes on the cards

Dockers CEO Steve Rosich said the club wouldn't support being involved.

"As I stated yesterday we were yet to understand the AFL’s position regarding a trial of proposed new rules in selected games in the 2018 season," Rosich said on Thursday.

"In subsequent discussions with Steve Hocking today, he has reiterated his comments made late yesterday afternoon, which was the most likely outcome being a series of trials in second tier competitions such as the WAFL and SANFL to assist the AFL with its decision making.

"Steve Hocking also advised the club that if a trial was to be conducted at AFL level it would require the approval of a number of stakeholders, including the AFL Commission and the clubs participating in the game.

"If it got to the stage that a trial was proposed for one of our games in 2018 Fremantle’s position is that we would not support that occurring."

Fagan said just because two teams were out of finals contention was no reason to trial rules in-season.

"To a degree it chips away at the integrity of the game," Fagan said.

"Just because there's two teams playing that can't make finals, doesn't mean both teams don't want to go out there and win and play to their best.

"I think using that game as an experiment is not the right way to go.

"I think it goes against the integrity of the game to tinker with things, even if they are dead rubbers."

Carlton footy boss Andrew McKay said on Thursday that the Blues would be also against trialling new rules in a home and away game.

"Our preference would be that we’d rather not," McKay told SEN.

In revealing the possible trials, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan conceded clubs potentially involved hadn't been consulted, and Lyon hoped Freo wouldn't be part of it. 

"We're a proud footy club, as Carlton are, and we'd like the competition to continue for the rest of the year as we started it," Lyon told 3AW. 

"But we also understand the challenges and the desire to make the game as great as it can be and it's in the hands of the custodians and the AFL, they govern the game.

"If they deemed it appropriate, we would acquiesce, but I think we'd have a bit of protest about it."

The possible trials have divided the AFL industry, with some raising concerns about the competition's integrity.

COMMENT The one thing rules trials must not affect

However, the League's football operations manager Steve Hocking said trials would first take place in second-tier competitions and urged fans to remain calm at the AFL's approach to reducing congestion.

The Dockers were happy to take part in a 20-minute training session trialling starting positions coming off their bye, but Lyon wasn't enthused about an experiment with four points on the line.

"The AFL would be thinking it's best for the competition, but sometimes you need to consider everything and there's unknown unknowns sometimes – as we found out with the (post round 23) bye coming in," Lyon said. 

"Everyone's intent's fine, I just think there's a lot of noise at the minute.

"I have a lot of trust in AFL House and the leadership of Gillon.

"But, as a club view, I think we'd be concerned that we'd be the guinea pigs."

 

However, Competition Committee member Brad Scott would be "very surprised" if rule changes were trialled in AFL games this year, saying that was an "extreme option that's not being strongly considered".

Scott told reporters that possibility had been downplayed later on Wednesday when the Competition Committee met for the second time.

"There will be nothing done that compromises the integrity of our AFL season. There was an extreme option put forward that potentially if there was a dead rubber would we consider trialling these things in a regular season game. That's part of the spit-balling process," the North Melbourne coach said.

"There have probably been hundreds and hundreds of proposals put forward as to things that we should look at, but these things get considered and just as quickly as some things are considered they get thrown out.

"There are multiple options to trial these things without going into the regular season. The discussion yesterday was around, 'Look, that's an extreme option and one that's not being strongly considered'."

"Let's just hose that one down, I don't think anyone needs to be too concerned about it."