MATTHEW RICHARDSON’S TOP 10: AFL fixture needs fixing, Kyle Langford is firing & holding the ball rule change

The Nightly
Kyle Langford is excelling in the forward line and you have got to feel for the umpires with the latest holding the ball rule tweak.
Kyle Langford is excelling in the forward line and you have got to feel for the umpires with the latest holding the ball rule tweak. Credit: Getty

1. You have to love a player that reinvents themselves to become a genuine AFL player.

Since the start of 2023 that player is Kyle Langford from the Bombers. What a move it’s been from Brad Scott by making him a permanent member of the forward line. He had played there before but by being there week-in, week-out, he has been able to showcase his abilities as a true forward threat. He has the nous, work rate and leading patterns that make him hard to match up with - 79 goals from 34 games has been the result.

2. While the decision to pay holding-the-ball free kicks more quickly is a good one, we are asking a lot of our umpires to change how they have been told to interpret a rule for 11 weeks.

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We do make it hard for our umpires. Do other sports change interpretations of rules mid-season? I don’t think so.

3. I’ve got to admit I can change my mind weekly.

I think I have a new favourite player again. How good is Chad Warner going? He has everything a midfielder needs. Wins the ball inside and out, has a great sidestep to get out of traffic and uses the space in front of him brilliantly. He’s great overhead and, most importantly, kicks goals with seven in his last two games. He’s in full beast mode.

4. I understand the AFL fixture is a tough job to get right.

No one is ever completely happy. But we enter a holding pattern over the next four weeks with all teams getting another bye. It feels flat every year.

5. Never doubt a champion.

Dustin Martin showed why at the MCG in last Saturday’s Dreamtime clash.

6. Apparently the AFLPA want shorter quarters.

This is not going to happen and shouldn’t with a bountiful new TV rights deal having been signed. The AFL season is a war of attrition and the club that best manages this, and has players fit and healthy at the pointy end of the season, is normally in the mix to win the flag.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 25: Dustin Martin of the Tigers celebrates a goal during the 2024 AFL Round 11 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Essendon Bombers at The Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 25, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Dustin Martin was at his best for Dreamtime at the ‘G. Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images

7. Bravo to former Geelong champion Jimmy Bartel who last Friday rode a stationary bike (virtually) from Geelong to Mildura.

That’s 538km in 21 hours. Jimmy raised $30,000 for the Very Special kids charity. What an effort.

8. The secret sauce.

The Giants have found it playing Geelong at the Cattery. The Giants have won four in a row down there so need to make sure they pack that secret sauce for every trip.

9. The travel debate.

Being based in Perth poses significant challenges for the two AFL teams there compared to those in the Eastern States by having to fly across the country and back every fortnight. This frequent travel disrupts sleep and recovery routines, which are critical in achieving peak performance. Eastward travel requires a change in sleeping patterns, disrupting circadian rhythm. Studies show this can impair motor performance and recovery. Consequently, Perth teams face greater difficulty maintaining consistent training routines. It’s not fair, end of the debate.

10. I’ve made a catastrophic mistake at home.

It seems a lot of kids in my oldest daughter’s year level are getting a Nintendo. Or so she has been telling me 12 times a day for weeks. This may be a porkie, I’m not sure. But what I’m sure of is me crumbling and saying yes will not be a good decision. I have a rubber arm. I need to be better.


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