West Coast Eagles Coach Adam Simpson is an advocate for the AFL’s new medical substitution rule.
Speaking to the media on Friday morning ahead of their clash with the Gold Coast Suns, Adam Simpson told The Inner Sanctum he was confident that the new rule is beneficial, and will be used appropriately.
“When done the in right way, I think it will be a good thing” Simpson said.
“It will take a bit of time to work on it each week”
“It might be a good opportunity for a young player”
Simpson believes in order for this rule to work, there has to be “someone with reasonable flexibility” as a player.
For the Eagles, players like Brendon Ah Chee, Jake Waterman, and Jarrod Brander are ideal fits as they play multiple positions on the ground.
Across the league, one player per match cannot complete a match due to injury on average, The Eagles are no exception. With this alarming statistic, the new rule may be applied more commonly than thought.
“I think we’re just under one a game, one injury that cannot finish that game”
“I daresay most games there will be a substitute” Simpson said.
With fewer rotations this season, the temptation is there for players to keep playing injured. However, this new rule will hopefully avoid this from happening.
West Coast was caught in this situation last season where they opted to continue to play Luke Shuey injured during their 15-point win over the Bombers.
“We wouldn’t put out a player we thought would get re-injured. In general, we try and make the right call”
“When you just have one down on the bench, and the pressure is on the player who puts their hand up and really wants to get out there, and doctors,” He said.
“It might make it a little easier to make decisions if you’ve got a fresh player available”
While the rule is a great starting point, some components still clearly need some consideration. An example is including games as substitutes in a player’s game count.
Simpson finds it “a little bit strange” for a player to debut and not have any field time.
“It’s a bit weird if you debut as a sub and it goes down as an official game and you don’t get to play”
“It’s probably something we’d like to avoid, but if it’s the best player for the role, then we’d have to look at it”
Another medical-themed rule change is the compulsory 12 day wait period for concussions. Forward Zac Langdon has concluded this period and is clear to play on Sunday. But despite ticking all the boxes, he is not guaranteed a spot in the side yet. Likewise for ex-Lion Alex Witherden.
“[Langdon’s] available, he’s passed everything, he did all the right protocols and he’s trained pretty much fully since Monday”
“[Langdon and Witherden] are still working our system. It’s been a very short preseason for them to try and adapt and Zac missed a critical game for his development.”
Meanwhile third year Xavier O’Neill is set to play his sixth game, covering for injured skipper Luke Shuey.
Simpson is “pretty happy with his development in the last couple of years”
“I think he’s in a good space and ready to go”