‘Red-lining’ players welcome new AFL sub

Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury says players are “red-lining” in games under new reduced rotations and the incoming sub rule is only being brought in to cater for the game’s new problem.

Pendlebury is in favour of the AFL bringing in an injury substitute for the 2021 season but said he was “surprised” by the late introduction, just days out from Round 1.

He said the jump from 16 to 20-minute quarters coupled with 75 rotations would have a big effect on players, and the 23rd-man would help keep players from burning out.

“I am surprised by it because it’s happened so late in the piece, but probably for the AFL just in general tried to get through Round 1 of the pre-season games and I certainly felt the affects of 75 rotations and certain guys not being able to come off,” Pendlebury said on Tuesday.

“Injury rates are probably going to spike because of that, and I didn’t really even think about what happens if someone gets concussed, let alone injuries and how much pressure that’s going to put on the players.

“We’re a game that wants the best players out there, but we’re also red-lining the best players pretty quickly at the moment.

“It’s almost like a rule got created and then we needed to create another rule to solve the problem of that rule.”

The @AFL has just dropped an injury BOMBSHELL on the eve of the 2021 [email protected] has the latest: https://t.co/LPSZHBnfNjpic.twitter.com/HPkPO2WLC6

Pendlebury said there were plenty of examples where teams had been disadvantaged by losing players early in games, such as last year’s Grand Final.

He said that made the sub a good idea.

“I’m in favour of bringing in the injury rule or the medical sub, I don’t want to see players exposed, especially early,” Pendlebury told SEN.

“You just have to go back to the Grand Final (last year) and Nick Vlastuin is out cold in the first two minutes of the game. I know Richmond still won that game of footy, but it would’ve been great for them to have a replacement sitting on the bench.

“Personally, whenever you lose a player early in the game and you’re forced to play an extra eight or 10 minutes than you normally do you definitely notice the next day how sore you are, let alone if you lose two players and we’ve had that happen to us a few times over the last few years.

“So it mightn’t be that game, but somewhere in the next fortnight you get caught out and you have one of those games where your legs aren’t under you and you’re super fatigued and you look back and go ‘that’s from the game two weeks ago where you played an extra 15 per cent game time’ and just things like that.

“So I think it’ll be significant, especially early when guys are trying to find their legs and get used to the increased game time and reduced rotations and new rules.”

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