THE AFL has doubled its mandatory time out of the game for a player who suffers a concussion, with at least 12 days needed before they can take the field again.

The 12-day return to play protocol was confirmed by the League on Thursday and is an increase on the previous six days required under the 2020 guidelines as the AFL adds further protection for players.

2021 FREE AGENTS Check out who is up for grabs

Under the new rule, all AFL and AFLW players who suffer a concussion will miss at least one match under standard fixturing due to the mandated time off. 

It means that if a player suffers a concussion in a preliminary final they will automatically be ruled out of the Grand Final the following week. The earliest that a player can return after a concussion is on the 12th day after the day on which the concussion was suffered. 

Former Saint Paddy McCartin after another concussion in the pre-season competition of 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

The AFL's chief medical officer Peter Harcourt and deputy chief medical officer Michael Makdissi, a long-term doctor at Hawthorn, have prepared the League’s concussion guidelines, which are reviewed annually.

"The updated concussion guidelines represent a significant step in the AFL's existing record of ongoing improvements to its concussion management strategy that reflect medical research and other learnings over time," said Andrew Dillon, the AFL's general counsel. 

FOOTY'S MIRACLES ON DEMAND

Enjoy the most Incredible Comebacks in AFL history, showing every goal from the most significant margin until the final siren

Watch Now

"The reality is we play a contact sport and there is always going to be risk, however over recent years we have continued to take action to strengthen match-day protocols and amend the Laws of the Game to discourage high contact.

FIXTURE BREAKDOWN Double-ups, byes, what your club says

"We also have used the technology that is embedded in the AFL ARC to provide another opportunity to identify potential concussive incidents that would not have otherwise been detected."

The AFL will soon also appoint a concussion lead at its headquarters to focus on the impacts of concussion at elite and community levels. 

Geelong captain Joel Selwood, who has missed three games through three separate concussions, backed the AFL's announcement.

"It's really promising. We put our trust in what the AFL are doing around all the research about it," Selwood said.

"As players we've just got to listen … there shouldn't be anyone complaining, this is for our general health overall and they're taking duty of care.

"I think you'll find players will jump on, whether it be a Grand Final or not, we've just got to get with the program."