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AFL tweaks interchange boards, 6-6-6 countdown clock looms

Pre-season overhaul on the cards, sick Cat ready, more Nat Edwards and Matt Thompson with all the latest news

THE AFL will permit clubs to use their own interchange boards to communicate with players from this weekend after trialling a digital version in the opening JLT Community Series round.

League headquarters introduced the LED-style boards in the wake of the new restrictions on club runners, who can now enter the field only after a goal is scored.

Club feedback is believed to have played a key role in the AFL’s decision, with the main observation being that players had difficulty reading the board because of glare.

AFL.com.au also understands the AFL plans to introduce a countdown clock on the scoreboard – similar to the set-shot clock – to aid players in moving back into the 6-6-6 starting positions at each centre bounce.

WATCH New interchange display boards unveiled

The hope is the countdown clock will be ready in time for round one, to help avoid the warnings and free kicks for a 'delay of game' or 'line breach' that were a regular feature in JLT1.

In those cases, teams are required to hold or reset in the 6-6-6 set-up until the umpire gives the ball to the ruckman, whereas players can move freely if a free kick is paid post a centre bounce.

They have 45 seconds to get into their starting positions, with each team required to have six players in each third of the ground, including four in the centre square and one in the goal square.

The countdown clock is expected to begin with 30 seconds remaining.

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An email sent to clubs on Tuesday night, which AFL.com.au has seen, outlined the restrictions on what types of boards can be used.

The boards can be a maximum of 800mm x 600mm, only one can be used at a time, no sponsor advertising can be displayed and clubs can determine what the boards are made from and the size of the numbers shown. 

A staff member must use the board within their interchange zone and it cannot be attached to a stand or bench infrastructure.

AFL spokesperson Jay Allen confirmed to AFL.com.au that clubs would be allowed to use their own boards from this weekend.

"After reviewing the digital interchange boards trial in round one of the JLT, we are giving clubs the option to either continue to use the AFL-issued equipment or introduce their own boards to communicate with players from the interchange bench," Allen said.

It is not mandatory for clubs to continue to use the digital boards and the email asks those clubs that don't to return them to the AFL.