AFL boss Gillon McLachlan says holding the ball interpretations need fixing after Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson’s brutal criticism of the modern game.
The four-time premiership coach launched an extraordinary attack on how the AFL is played in 2020 after the Hawks’ four-point victory over North Melbourne.
Clarkson pleaded for changes to fix the game, which he says is in a “dreadful space” after his side was involved in a “terrible spectacle” at Marvel Stadium on Sunday night.
The AFL’s longest-serving active coach believes umpires need directives from the AFL to reward good tackling.
McLachlan said he would be speaking to the AFL’s football operations boss Steve Hocking this week about a number of things related to the increasingly complicated COVID-19 affected 2020 season.
“I haven’t spoken to ‘Clarko’. I don’t agree with Clarko on the state of the game; there were some cracking games on the weekend and some average – that’s sport,” McLachlan told reporters on Monday.
“I do agree with him on to an extent on holding the ball.
“You need prior opportunity. You can’t have guys taking the ball and not having prior opportunity.
“Our players these days are so skilled and so quick, they can take the ball and assess the option so quickly and if they don’t like it they’ll take the tackle.
“Well, they’ve had the prior and they should be pinged. I think we need to be tougher on holding the ball.”
Clarkson was at a loss to explain how his team laid 69 tackles against the Roos but did not receive a single tackle-specific free kick.
“What’s happened to our game? You can’t have that many tackles and not one of them be incorrect disposal,” the Hawks coach said.
Geelong coach Chris Scott was another high-profile figure to question how the modern game looks after the Cats defeated Melbourne in a low-scoring scrap on Sunday.
“I don’t think anyone watching the game would think they’re two teams that are just going to dominate the competition,” he said.