WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says backlash to his club's handballing tactics in its 2016 premiership year has blurred the holding the ball rule and has advocated for its interpretation to be simplified to help umpires.
His counterpart for this week's clash against St Kilda, coach Brett Ratten, last week put a lack of holding the ball free kicks on the agenda following his side's defeat to Geelong, questioning the worth of tackling without being rewarded.
Beveridge supported a change of the rule, saying that it had become difficult for the umpires to officiate the complex rule given the speed of the game. And he said the noise about the change had started following the Dogs' breakthrough flag five years ago and remained clouded.
"Unfortunately it became blurry after '16 when a couple of clubs whinged about us and they tried to pay more free kicks and by round three they knew it wasn't working so they tried to go back to what it was," the Dogs coach said on Tuesday.
"It's just an example of flinching on the run so let's just get back to prior opportunity and incorrect disposals – just give the umpires a chance. It's still going to be hard, the game has probably never been quicker so sometimes it's hard to work out whether a player has had prior opportunity.
"It’s a really fine line. I get why the umpires find it hard in certain circumstances but just keep it simple for them and it'll give them every chance."
The Bulldogs will be searching to continue their stellar start to the season on Saturday night, with the club monitoring some sore bodies after last week's ballistic contest against the Power.
Beveridge said ruckman Tim English (concussion) and midfielder Lachie Hunter (hand) still needed to prove their fitness at Thursday's main training session, and confirmed that last week's substitute Hayden Crozier would likely replace Easton Wood (hamstring) in the starting 22 this week.
MEDICAL ROOM The full AFL injury list
A number of other players, Beveridge said, had pulled up sore from the win over Port Adelaide, with Patrick Lipinski (who had his thigh strapped), Mitch Hannan, Jordon Sweet, Aaron Naughton and Josh Bruce among those on light duties on Tuesday.
"We've got to make sure by Thursday we're really moving and primed to play the Saints," Beveridge said.
"I don't think there's significant doubt over many of them. Some are managed early in the week at times and that's part of their weekly program but there are others who have some corkies here and there and things that have flared up. We'll monitor that this week."
No.1 draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan won't be available for the VFL this week as he continues his recovery from concussion.