Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade says the AFL should bring back the substitute rule to combat the effect of stricter rules around concussion.
Eade believes the crackdown on players who suffer head knocks, while laudable and entirely necessary, means more teams will be forced to play out games with fewer players and rotations.
His proposed solution is to re-introduce the unpopular sub rule, but with a condition – the sub could only replace a player who is either concussed, or seriously injured and unable to return to the field.
The sub would effectively be a reserve player, in addition to the four interchange players currently allowed.
To circumvent any exploitation, Eade suggested the player they replace would not be allowed to play the next week.
“I’ve thought about it a bit,” Eade said on Thursday.
“Players are getting ruled out quicker.
“I can see concussion becoming more and more prevalent, the AFL are going to be really strong on the concussion interpretation and some teams will lose two a week with concussion and that will happen, there’s no doubt.
“We’ve got to protect players but by the same token, it’s going to be unfair on teams.”
The sub rule was abolished at the end of last season after five years in play – much to the relief of most AFL players, coaches and fans, who considered it a cumbersome way to reduce rotations.
Eade’s idea would have allowed the Gold Coast to bring on an extra player during their heavy loss to Melbourne last weekend, when they lost Matt Rosa (hamstring) and Alex Sexton (broken arm) and played most of the last three quarters with only two bench players.
“If you’ve got a player with cramp, well you don’t replace him and if you do replace him, you can’t play him next week,” Eade said.
“That way you’re going to mitigate against any unfair advantage with the player numbers.”
The Suns face fellow expansion side Greater Western Sydney at Spotless Stadium on Saturday.