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AFL great David Parkin backs ‘well-thought through’ rule changes

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Related Story: AFL confirms rule changes but scraps 18-metre goal square

The AFL has promised a "fast" and "free-flowing" game with their much-publicised rule and interpretation changes announced for the 2019 season.

Key points:

  • David Parkin believes the changes will showcase some of the unique aspects of Australian rules
  • Parkin feels the '6-6-6' rule will help reduce congestion
  • He believes the rule concerning runners will improve on-field leadership from players

Not all of the nine changes announced on Thursday have gone down well with the AFL faithful, but David Parkin is one observer who supports the league's effort to improve the attractiveness of its product.

Parkin, who won four premierships as a coach and captain, believes the AFL needs to be applauded for how it has gone about the changes.

"I'm not a great critic of what has happened, as I think the rule changes have been well-thought through," Parkin told the ABC.

"This is the best process we've ever used."

Parkin estimates there has been "58" changes to the rules in the VFL/AFL during his almost seven decades in the game.

He feels every AFL stakeholder — whether it be the players, spectators or administrators — can be satisfied the changes announced will have a positive effect.

"I am all for anything that will make it better for us who watch it, whether we are watching on television or in real life," Parkin said.

"I think we have got to make it more fun for the players because it is such a deadly serious game."

Marking contests, 50-metre penalties and the ruck were among parts of the game that will be impacted by the nine changes, but there were three that stood out for Parkin.

'6-6-6' rule set to free up play

The AFL has dictated teams must have six players inside both 50-metre arcs, with one inside the goal square, and four midfielders have to start inside the centre square, with two wingmen positioned along the wing.

The so-called 6-6-6 rule is designed to create less congestion and was discussed at length during the 2018 season.

The AFL wants positional play to take place at centre bounces.

Parkin welcomes the introduction of what the AFL described as "traditional playing positions".

"It's not going to have a dramatic effect," he said.

"Once the ball is in play players are then free to move where they want and I think it will have an insignificant effect, except to make it a bit freer at the centre bounce time."

Kick-ins rule may see a return of 'longer kicks', 'high marking'

The contentious 18-metre goal square proposal failed to get the green light, much to the delight of a significant amount of AFL supporters.

There are tweaks, however, to the kick-in rules.

Players will no longer need to kick to themselves to play on from the goal square.

A player will no longer need to kick to himself to play from the goal square, while after a behind has been scored the man on the mark will be brought out to 10 metres from the top of the goal square.

Parkin was interested by the fact the AFL resisted the move to increase the size of the square and he is hopeful the changes will see the game return to some of its "unique" features.

"They've given the fellow with the ball more opportunity to run freer, he doesn't have to touch it on his boot," he said.

"We might get what I'm hoping [will be] many more longer kicks to gain the ground toward their forward line, which may have as a side effect more high marking."

Runners 'are a waste of time'

Team runners and water carriers came under scrutiny with the rule and interpretation changes.

The AFL has stated runners now "may only enter the playing surface after a goal has been kicked and must exit before play restarts".

Chad Cornes on the field as Port Adelaide Power runner against Carlton at the MCG in 2018.

Water carriers will not be allowed to come onto to the field of play outside of stoppages.

Parkin is a massive supporter of the changes to when a runner is allowed onto the field, having considered the role up until this point to be a blight on the game.

"If you've got good on-field leadership you don't need a runner because the players are directing that," he said.

"It will force clubs and coaches to make sure they develop thinking players on the field who can do what is required by that team.

"I think the runners are a waste of time."

The AFL community will continue to digest the changes in the build-up to next season and as it does so Parkin has spared a thought for its most maligned members — the umpires.

"We've got to make it easier to umpire because it is the most difficult game in the world to umpire," he said.

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