Nothing wrong with the game: Woewodin
2000 Brownlow Medallist Shane Woewodin says the game of AFL football is in good shape, despite growing calls for the league to make alterations to improve the quality of the competition.
Speaking on Sports Drive on Tuesday, the former Demon and Magpie said he felt the game was as good as ever.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the game in particular really,” Woewodin said.
“Everyone has a lot of opinions on where the game is at. The game naturally evolves. I do think we fiddle with the game too much from a rules perspective.”
The 43 year old said he felt for the officials with so many rule changes in recent seasons.
“I think our game is the hardest in the world to officiate, so therefore I feel for the umpires,” he said.
“We consistently change the rules every year. The confusion for umpires is on the interpretation of the rules. They keep changing year to year. We never let them settle to officiate our great game.”
Despite lingering concerns surrounding congestion in matches and the defensive nature of some games, Woewodin saw positives in the way the modern game was being played.
“When you lose the footy, the forwards empty out now and start pressing the field up a little bit more. It clogs the space for the opposition and then just provides the space out the back for when they do turn it over, they have got that space to be able to get back in to,” he said.
“It’s just a sixty-metre bubble all around the field at the moment. It’s a game of defence, a game of tactics. I like it, I reckon it’s great for the game. I reckon our players are more skilled these days. I like the fact it’s a contest, not necessarily 25 goals each but it’s a contest.
“The AFL season is a marathon as we know, a game is a war. It’s a battle of how players absorb pressure and take the tackles and work in contests to be able to free up and get free is really exciting and that’s where I love the game.”
Woewodin, who coached East Fremantle immediately upon his retirement from playing from 2008-10 and was involved as an assistant with the Brisbane Lions, wanted rotations to remain capped at 90, but does want one rule changed in the game.
“The one rule I would definitely like to see is the third man up rule back in vogue again,” he said.
“I never really saw an issue with that, there was never really injuries to ruckmen with guys jumping up. I reckon the great exponents of the third up rule in just the last 5-6 years was Fremantle and how Mundy and Fyfe used their height to advantage around stoppages.
“That’s one rule I would like to see back in the game. I was also in agreeance with Clarko (Alastair Clarkson) and Gil (Gillon McLachlan) on the weekend, there needs to be more free kicks for holding the ball or illegal disposal.”
Woewodin did not see the need for the introduction of the last touch rule, which currently operates in the SANFL.
“I don’t like it, I think the deliberate rule is fine. See I love stoppages, I reckon it’s an art, it’s a craft. An ability for mids to use the ball from that area, and how they exit those areas is another fine art,” he said.
“It’s a craft the players build on every week. I don’t like to see the stoppages out of the game.”
Woewodin is currently coach of North Fremantle in the Perth Football League, who this season find themselves in the A-grade competition. His son Taj is in the East Fremantle colts squad and is eligible as a father son selection at Melbourne in 2021.