Coach Brenton Sanderson says the Crows will have to make slight adjustments to the way they play and manage rotations after the AFL Commission confirmed it would introduce an interchange cap from next season.
On Tuesday, the AFL Commission announced interchanges would be capped at 120 per game for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, based on a recommendation from the AFL's football operations department. There will no cap on interchanges per quarter, with clubs to be left to monitor their total rotations over the entire four quarters. The 120 limit will not include the use of the substitute or the changes made during breaks between quarters.
Adelaide is the second-highest rotating team in the competition, averaging 144 interchanges (including quarter and three-quarter time changes) per game. Only Fremantle (146) rotates its players more. The AFL average this season is 133 rotations.
Sanderson reaffirmed the Crows were opposed to a cap on interchanges, but said the Club would make the necessary changes to comply with the latest rule change.
“Initially, we asked the question as to ‘why?’ there needed to be an interchange cap, but we were informed pretty early this season that there was likely to be a cap in 2014, so we began putting forward our case as to an appropriate number for the cap,” Sanderson said.
“We’re not supportive of the cap, but now that it’s been introduced at least they’ve started higher than the 80 interchanges originally floated. We thought 80 would’ve changed the game too much as it currently sits.
“The interchange cap probably impacts us, Fremantle, Hawthorn and GWS the most. West Coast, Sydney, North Melbourne and Essendon rotate the least – in the low-120s – so it won’t affect them too much.
“There will have to be a slight adjustment to our game style and it’s something we’ll train for over the summer. When you watch us play, you won’t notice significant changes. It shouldn’t affect the game a great deal.
“We’ll just have to be a bit smarter with how we rotate guys and make some small adjustments.”
Sanderson said the Club would continue to talk to the AFL and the 17 other clubs to work out the finer details of the interchange cap.
“There might be some issues late in games if you’re out of interchanges and a player gets injured. Those things need to be discussed a bit further,” he said.
“It’s good that there are no restrictions per quarter, so we don’t need a person counting rotations as their sole job on match day. We’ll almost be able to keep a counter going on the bench.”