IN ITS efforts to eliminate one blight on the game, the AFL has created a brand new one.
And players and coaches have called for a change to the deliberate out of bounds rule now to fix the problem.
The crackdown on players deliberately putting the ball out of play has created an incentive for opponents to watch the ball roll over the line rather than trying to pick it up.
Suns coach Rodney Eade, Hawthorn champion Luke Hodge and Swan Dan Hannebery say that goes against what the rule is supposed to achieve.
"It's a bad look," Hannebery said on Channel 7's AFL Game Day.
"When it's a quick kick out of a stoppage and you see a player almost chaperone the ball out of bounds, it's really frustrating to see that get paid deliberate when in the spirit of the game you want to keep that ball flowing and not just see it ushered out and paid a free kick."
Hodge said he was a fan of the deliberate rule but not this unintended consequence of it.
"I actually like the rule, I like the fact you can't put it through without pressure on you for a point, I like the rule that you're trying to keep the ball in play because that's what supporters want to see ... but if you see someone who slows down to make sure they get the ball back (from a free kick) I reckon it should be a throw-in."
Eade said that was the simplest solution.
"I don't think the player needs to speed up (to get to the ball) but if he can touch it and he's stopping, well, there's a chance for him to keep the ball in play and that shouldn't be deliberate out of bounds."
The rule was in the crosshairs again on the weekend with Bulldogs Tom Boyd and Jake Stringer penalised at Manuka Oval on Friday night.
Boyd kicked out of defence and the ball took a right-hand bounce over the boundary line, but Stringer's case was even more baffling. He was pushed as he kicked the ball inside the centre square only to see it spray sideways to the wing.
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