The AFL will trial a new penalty for deliberately rushed behinds during the opening two rounds of the JLT Series as it plans to tighten up on players undertaking the practice during the premiership season.
Under the new penalty, a point will be awarded, before the ball is then thrown-up five metres in front of the goalsquare, rather than a free kick directly in front of goal as currently applies.
AFL football operations boss Mark Evans said the trial rule would only be formally introduced in the premiership season if it was deemed a success and there was strong support from clubs to make a change.
The AFL determined over the off-season that the players would be penalised for deliberately rushing behinds if they:
- rushed a behind from beyond the goalsquare
- had time and space to dispose of the ball
- was not considered to be under pressure
- a player in a ruck contest hit the ball on the full over the line
The 'third man up' ban will also be introduced this season with clubs expected to designate ruckmen to contest a ball-up or boundary throw-in.
No player other than the designated ruckmen will be allowed to contest the ball until it hits the ground and play-on is called, meaning players will concede a free kick if they grab an errant ball-up or throw-in unless they are a designated ruckman.
Players will not receive a free kick if a tackle is reasonable and their actions contribute to head high contact, while the protected area rule has been defined with the objective of giving players who inadvertently find themselves in the protected area a chance to leave that space.