Fremantle defender Jordan Clark admits the holding the ball rule has ventured into a grey area, and hopes the AFL can reign it back in. 

This week the AFL announced a mid-season change to the holding-the-ball rule after frustration and confusion from fans and coaches alike.

Coaches and fans have questioned what was considered holding the ball after several non-calls were made. In addition, coaches complained players risked being injured after players were given too much time to dispose of the ball during a tackle. 

In response, the AFL has instructed umpires to reduce the amount of time players had to get rid of the ball to address the coaches’ confusion. 

Speaking on Sports Breakfast, Clark says he was under the impression the ball needed to be disposed of correctly and promptly, otherwise, it is a free kick. 

“It’s probably gone to a little bit of a grey area let’s say over the start of this year and hopefully they can get back on top of it,” he said. 

“(Dayne) Zorko might have touched on it the other day with trying to protect the head. You’re not going to take players to ground these days because you don’t want to miss games of footy. 

“Umpires seem to be letting those tackles go on for a lot longer than they should be and the ball is kicked away and they’re resulting goals.” 

Carlton coach Michael Voss and Gold Coast coach Damien Hardwick spoke post-match after their sides went head-to-head on Saturday afternoon.

Hardwick noted the time taken to pay the free kick created dangerous situations for players, stating umpires needed to make a decision. 

He also questioned how of the 131 effective tackles, only four of them were paid holding the ball. 

Clark expressed his frustrations from a playing perspective, regarding protecting the tackled player.

“It is a little bit frustrating when you are, as a player, trying to protect someone’s head,” he said. 

“From the opposition, not taking them to ground and doing the right thing and then giving them the opportunity to get rid of the footy.”

“That could be tied up a little bit which I think the AFL has cleared that up this week which should help that situation. I dare say there’ll be some improvements in that area.  

“Umpires are like players, we all make mistakes and you’re never going to umpire the perfect game. We’ve just got to cop it on the chin for what it is and play to the whistle.” 

Another rule on the radar of the AFL world in recent weeks is that surrounding the draw. 

Last Friday, Fremantle drew Collingwood 75-all, marking it the third match this season to end in a draw and the second involving Collingwood. 

Many have suggested the league needs extra time, however, Clark has rejected these suggestions. 

“Leave it as it is. It’s 120 minutes and if that’s the result, that’s the result,” he said.

“We do have a lot of rules changes in our game every year and traditionally if this one tends to stay and be a part of the game, I think it’s a great reason not to change the game. 

“There are a lot of movements around protecting the head, and rules that are getting changed at the moment and I just feel like we can leave the game alone if we don’t need to necessarily fix anything.

“I’d love to see this draw stay a part of the game because it makes it interesting coming into the year and final style and things like that.”

IMAGE: Code Sports