WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has blasted the AFL over changing its guidelines around tackling, believing decision-makers have "flinched" at media criticism.
But opinion is divided among senior coaches with Melbourne's Simon Goodwin, Geelong's Chris Scott and Hawthorn's Sam Mitchell backing the move.
The AFL on Tuesday issued a warning that players will no longer be rewarded with free kicks when they duck or shrug their heads in tackles.
'THEY WON'T BE REWARDED' AFL cracks down on shrugging, ducking
It came after heated debate surrounding young Collingwood dynamo Jack Ginnivan and whether he was being umpired differently to other players.
But Beveridge has hit out at the change, saying the AFL has caved into external pressure.
"My point of view is let’s not change the game and the interpretations that have been there forever," Beveridge said.
"The reason why (Geelong captain) Joel Selwood gets a lot of head-high free kicks is because he’s probably the hardest at the football, a loose ball and at a contest in the competition, so he’s rewarded for it.
"If you’ve got techniques that ultimately entice a clumsy or undisciplined tackle then good luck to him and he deserves every free kick that he gets.
"He’s a prime example for me, because do we now look back and say 'well, some of those ones he got over time they shouldn’t be there based on what’s just been put out'?
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"Reward the player who’s got his head over the footy … ultimately penalise the guy who hasn't tackled how he should have tackled.
"I’m happy for the marginal ones to be play-on but let’s not change things again, because the umpires have got it hard enough.
"I think the pressure from the media comes around and probably the supporter bases as well and it’s another flinch.
"Just reward the player who’s hardest at the football and let’s not victimise that sort of behaviour, because it should be rewarded not penalised."
Beveridge said he was unsure how long this latest crackdown would last, highlighting previous examples this season of rules being adjudicated differently across different weeks.
"There are things and messages that have come through that have really only lasted two weeks," Beveridge said.
"I’m always keen to keep the wheels in current motion and support the umpires in decision making."
The League says a player with the ball, who is deemed to have a prior opportunity, and attempts to shrug, duck or lift an arm will be called for holding the ball.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan argued on Tuesday night "it's the same rule, clarified" and coaches and players have been trying to "exploit" it.
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While Beveridge was vocal in his disapproval of the AFL's change, Geelong coach Chris Scott and Hawthorn counterpart Sam Mitchell both backed in the clarification.
"My care factor for what the rules are has reduced enormously over time," Scott said.
"I kind of see it as a badge of honour to understand it better than anyone else."
Mitchell argued when the AFL makes rule changes they usually "work for the better".
Goodwin strongly backed the rule change.
"It's not something we coach ... it's fantastic that they've been able to come out and say this is what they're going to focus in on, from an umpiring perspective," he said.
"I don't think it's a great look for our game, where we try to draw free kicks, but it is a tough thing to umpire.
"Hopefully we can try and eradicate that type of stuff out of the game."