AFL to backflip on runners by Round 1: Bevo
Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has sensationally claimed he expects the AFL to backflip on its new restrictions around the use of runners before Round 1 as players begin to revolt over the new rules.
Beveridge, who put the restrictions on runners on the agenda after his side's first pre-season match against Gold Coast Suns, slammed the new rules after being unable to properly communicate with his players in another tight game against St Kilda in Ballarat on Sunday.
The 2016 premiership coach said he felt "helpless" at times and his players were also voicing their frustrations around the lack of direction.
In the last quarter on Sunday, Beveridge claimed there were "three or four things we wanted to do" but wasn't able to because of restrictions on runners.
Runners are only allowed on the ground during breaks in play after goals this season.
"I think in those tight games when you feel helpless and you can't organise things with your players, over time we've won a lot of those close games. We've lost some as well, but you feel quite helpless," Beveridge said.
"So I'm looking forward to having access again to the runner during quarters so hopefully that will happen over the next couple of weeks."
Asked if he had any insight into a potential backflip, Beveridge said: "I don't, but I just can't see how it (can continue) because all the players are making noise now.
"The theory was they are giving it back to the players and their instinct.
"The players are saying, 'We need direction, we need to hear from the bench'. So I think they'll listen to the players and unfortunately it's taken that to bring it back but I'm sure over the next couple of weeks, going into Round 1, we'll probably be able to use our runner a bit during quarters."
St Kilda coach Alan Richardson backed Beveridge's calls to be given more access to runners, saying the restrictions had particularly severe impact on young teams like his.
"We've got the signs all ready to go in terms of what we want to do strategically, Richardson said.
"That takes a lot of time for the players to get used to that, to be able to look over at the bench. But I think that would be good if we could get more access to the runners.
"Knowing we're not going to have the runners, we've done a lot of work in terms of the players having to communicate with each other, particularly when they interchange and go and almost be like a runner if they can. We've been able to practice that. I think we're in reasonable shape. I still want more access to the runner but the players haven't said anything."