Geelong defender Lachie Henderson says some passages of play will be ‘undefendable’ under new man on the mark rules
Geelong defender Lachie Henderson says some passages of play will be ‘undefendable’ under new man on the mark rules

The situation every defender is dreading in 2021

Geelong defender Lachie Henderson says the league's new man-on-the-mark rule will make some passages of play "undefendable" and believes scoring will only increase as a result.

The new rules allow the defender closest to the player who has marked a short period to decide whether to immediately retreat before being told to "stand" by the umpire.

If he stands the mark he will then give away a 50m penalty if he moves a step off his line, which the league hopes will allow the attacking team to open up the corridor through diagonal kicks.

Henderson says if a supporting player charges into space inside 50m with no other defender in sight, the defender will just have to stand and watch while it is kicked to them.

Previously a player could man the mark then abandon it to pick up an opponent running into space.


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The Cats veteran says he has experimented with abandoning the mark and standing on it and neither gives him any comfort about his ability to stop goals.

"We have been working on it a fair bit. It's going to be interesting to see how much it changes the game," he told the Herald Sun.

"It is definitely going to open the game up and make it harder to defend. There are all kinds of different ideas getting thrown around at the moment, it will be interesting to see how it is going to work.

"I think everyone has tried individually different things. I was of the opinion to sit back at the start, now I am of the opinion to stand there, but when you are on the mark it's so hard for you having done it for your whole career to not move side to side.




"You have just got to see Jarrod Harbrow run past, I don't want him to get the footy. You are going to try to stop him and it's 50m.

"I reckon there will be (more goals). I was saying to Scarlo (defensive coach Matthew Scarlett) there are going to be passages of play that are going to be undefendable. You will have to just put it to the side and move on. And in turn that will lead to more goals."

AFL football operations boss Steve Hocking told the Herald Sun a summer which will have 500 umpire visits at club training sessions by Round 1 should have everyone confident about how the rule is officiated.

A continual frustration of fans is that new rules are officiated to the letter of the law, leading to a spate of 50m penalties, before umpires relax their interpretation as the season progresses.

In Round 1, 2018 umpires were hot on the 10m protected zone, leading to four Carlton goals from 50m penalties in the Blues' clash against Richmond.

But the league is hopeful that players and umpires working in concert through the summer during match simulation will help ease fears about too many 50m penalties this season.


Originally published as The situation every defender is dreading in 2021