The AFL has reportedly scrapped the contentious medical substitute rule, with an interchange bench shake up to be implemented next month.
According to reports, the AFL will introduce a “tactical substitute” rule, with that player able to come into the game at any time – while still keeping with four players on the bench.
The change is likely to mirror the red/green vest sub rule used in the AFL between 2011 and 2015, with a player to be ruled out of the contest once substituted.
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For the past two seasons, clubs had named a medi-sub just an hour before the first bounce with that player only able to come into the game should a teammate be deemed “medically unfit” to continue by a club doctor.
It had been put in place that the sub would be used on a player “medically unfit to participate in any match for at least the next 12 days”, with a medical certificate to then be provided to the AFL certifying the injury.
AFL great Gerard Healy said he would have preferred to see a five-player bench implemented for the 2023 season.
“I was a fan just to make it simple and go five (players for the) interchange,” he said on SEN’s Sportsday.
“I don’t know why we’re going back to the green jacket.
“We’ve ultimately just added one person.
“I guess the more you add to the bench, the less an injury impacts just by way of the mathematics.”
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There were plenty of critics of the medi-sub use, with some clubs accused of pushing the boundaries in terms of how serious an injury was, while other clubs were criticised for using debutants as the sub – and then failing to use them in the match.
Controversially, medi-subs were also given the game to add to their career tally – even if they didn’t make it onto the field.
The AFL medical substitute rule, which was rushed in days out from the first game of the 2021 season, had been described as one of the “great grey areas” of the game.
Former AFL coach Rodney Eade had called for any player medically substituted to be sidelined for a mandatory 12 days – as is the current concussion protocol.
Earlier this year, the AFL had presented three options to clubs to try and improve the medi-sub debacle.
One option was to leave the system as it currently was – four on the bench with a player able to be substituted for a serious injury, implement a five-player bench or go back to the red/green vest set up that was seen in the AFL between 2011 and 2015.
The proposed tactical sub rule is set to closely follow those red/green vest guidelines.