Beveridge wants AFL to protect prior opportunity

June 14, 2024 BY

Adamant: Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge wants the AFL to protect prior opportunity. Photos: JOEL CARRETT/AAP PHOTOS

WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has urged the AFL to protect prior opportunity, saying the holding-the-ball rule tweak has become “risky” to players hunting the ball.

Describing it as a “challenge” for the AFL, Beveridge believes the mid-season adjustment could have gone too far.

“In the AFL’s charter, it talks about our game being a contested game,” he said after the Bulldogs’ 17.12 (114) to 10.11 (71) loss against the Brisbane Lions on Friday night.

“In the charter, you have to protect the player who tries to win the ball, so we can’t move away from that otherwise the game changes.

“What happened last week was a reaction to some feedback from some senior coaches.

“But they were talking about situations where players were standing up in tackles and the request was for the whistle to be blown a bit earlier, whether they’ve had prior opportunity or not – just blow it earlier.

“But now that’s been taken into situations where players have been taken to the ground.”

Beveridge believed the AFL needed to “absolutely uphold” prior opportunity for players with the ball.

“In essence we need to protect the guy who wins the footy if he gets tackled straight away,” he said.

Western Bulldogs players leave the field last week following their AFL Round 13 loss against the Brisbane Lions at Marvel Stadium.

“We need to make sure we get back to making sure we’re in in sync with the spirit of the game.

“What’s happened is now that the game has evolved and changed within the space of two weeks.

“It’s risky now and a concern if we’re not looking after the ball-winner.

“I’m not confused because I know what should happen.

“There’s people who have said,get rid of the prior opportunity, but if you do, it’s a very different game.”

Beveridge’s passionate plea came a day after rival coaches Michael Voss (Carlton), Brad Scott (Essendon) and Alastair Clarkson (North Melbourne) declared they were satisfied with the AFL’s clarification following round 11.

The tightening resulted in a spike in holding-the-ball free kicks paid – up 41 per cent to an average of 11.6 across the seven matches in round 12.

It was a significant rise on the average of 8.2 holding-the-ball free kicks paid across all games played earlier in the season.

In the Bulldogs’ game on Friday night, the Lions were awarded seven holding-the-ball free kicks in the first-half.