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AFLW: Rules prompt rethink

Lee Gaskin, AFL Media  December 15, 2017 11:39 AM

AFLW 2018 Portraits - Adelaide Crows

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 8: Bec Goddard, Senior Coach of the Crows poses for a portrait during the Adelaide Crows Womens team photo day at AAMI Stadium on December 8, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

I think the players' welfare is paramount, but I know the AFL will be monitoring that really closely to see how that plays out

Adelaide’s AFL Women's premiership-winning coach Bec Goddard will have to balance her rotations more carefully after having one player removed from the interchange bench for next season.

Teams will have 21 players for each game, with 16 on the ground and five on the bench, compared to six on the bench for this year's inaugural season.

The reduction in the number of players was announced at the same time as the introduction of the last-touch rule for when the ball goes out of bounds, in an effort to speed up the game.

There will also be two minutes of time-on played in every 15-minute quarter to account for any delays during the match.

The change in the number of players was made after data revealed that, on average, one to two players from each team only played about 35 per cent of game time.

Goddard said that wasn't the case at the Crows, as they spread minutes throughout their entire team to cope with the heat and their attacking game style.

"At Adelaide, we certainly used our rotations with all six players on the bench and we didn't discriminate about how we did that, everyone was selected on their own merits and they were used accordingly," Goddard told

"Other teams didn't do that, and because of that, the statistics indicated that the bench wasn't used as much.

"I think if we're going to the last-touch rule, the game is increasing in time and we're in the middle of summer, and now we've got one less player, I think the players' welfare is paramount, but I know the AFL will be monitoring that really closely to see how that plays out.

"They've already shown that they've set up a great competition where they want to see the best skills on display, and if it doesn't work, then it will be changed."

Goddard said she agreed with the last-touch rule but it was up to coaches to implement entertaining game styles.

The inaugural season of AFLW surpassed all expectations, with big crowds across the competition and huge television ratings.

"I believe the onus is on the coaches in the competition as the custodians of the game, to make sure the game plans they're using, in addition to the rule tweaks, aren't defeated," Goddard said.

"Some teams play a style of game that encourages one-on-one contests, and other teams play a different style.

"That's fine, but at this stage, when we're trying to get new viewers to the game and make the brand as best as we can, it's really important that we're careful about the way we coach and what plans we set up."

The Crows will have a practice match against Fremantle in Darwin on January 20 before opening their title defence with a Grand Final rematch against the Brisbane Lions on February 3 at Norwood Oval.