New zones could combat congestion

Paul Roos and Nathan Buckley have slammed the prospect of the AFL introducing on-field zones to combat congestion and improve the game's aesthetics.

The two coaches from Queen's Birthday combatants Melbourne and Collingwood made it clear on Tuesday that the idea floated by laws of the game committee member John Worsfold would find strong opposition at clubland.

Former West Coast coach Worsfold outlined the radical concept of restricting as many as three players from both teams in each half of the ground, and even suggested the proposal could be trialled in the pre-season competition.

Roos, who went head-to-head with Worsfold in the coach's box during the 2005 and 2006 grand finals, responded in a satirical tone as he squashed the plan during his media conference.

"If we want to keep it as football, we keep it as football. I don't remember in 150 years there being zones in football," Roos said.

"If you want to play a different game, call it something else and we'll play a different game," he said.

"Or we can have two games – we can have Australian rules footy and another game called zoneball. It's a great idea."

Buckley suggested Worsfold was just "spit-balling ideas" and predicted the drastic rule change would never come to fruition.

"I'm just getting around my son playing under-8s and having to wear wristbands to stay in the forwards, mids or backs, so that works well for kids," he said.

Worsfold, talking on Channel Seven, himself admitted the zoning concept was a "very far-fetched suggestion at the moment" and that the laws of the game committee was likely to "let the game evolve itself".

Buckley said that would be a more logical position for the committee to take, believing any restrictions on playing movement around how they contest the ball would dramatically change the game.

"I've been really consistent, there's too much focus on poor games of football and there's poor games football through every era and we're too quick to jump on a game when we see a bad game," he said.

In raising the idea on Monday night, Worsfold said the committee was investigating ways to make the game less congested and to encourage players to "hold their positions more".

"So maybe two or three players from each side always have to be in either half of the ground so they can't all cross over and get into one half," he said.

Worsfold predicted the rule would be relatively easy to police, suggesting one of the four boundary umpires could remain at the halfway mark and scan an imaginary line (in the same way a soccer linesman would to enforce the "off-side" rule) to ensure players stayed in either half of the ground.

He said a simple free kick would be the penalty for breaking the rule, but conceded such a fundamental change or trial would need extensive consultation from coaches and other stakeholders.

Roos offered his feedback on Tuesday, slamming the league for being too reactive and too willing to change key elements of the game.

"The problem is we put rules in. Now we say the rules we put in haven't worked, so we'll put some new rules in," he said.

"We'll do that, and put some rules in to fix the rules that were supposed to fix the rules.

"Then we'll put some rules in to fix the rules that were going to fix the rules that were going to fix the rules.

"We'll keep doing that, that sounds like a great idea."

Although he conceded the introduction of the expansion clubs, and the clutch of draft picks afforded to GWS and Gold Coast, had meant the "talent level is different now", Roos said coaches and players were still capable of fixing the game as they had in the past.

"The game at the moment is as close to 18 one-on-one contests as you can possibly have, and we've still got people complaining," the 2005 premiership coach said.

"I'm just a coach. We're seen as ruining the game, so we've got to keep our mouths shut."

With Alana Schetzer

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