Sub rule a sore point at Dockers
Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich says it’s too early to link the reduction in interchange players to the club’s long injury list despite his coach Mark Harvey calling for a review of the rule.
The Dockers have been ravaged by injury all year and at the weekend lost ruckman Aaron Sandilands (toe) for four weeks, while Luke McPharlin (groin) could miss Saturday’s game against Gold Coast. Fremantle were heartened to learn that Sandilands, who signed a one-year contract extension to remain with the club until 2014, wouldn’t require surgery, but his absence against Sydney and West Coast will be significant.
Hayden Ballantyne, Anthony Morabito, Antoni Grover, Adam McPhee, David Mundy, Nick Suban, Michael Barlow, Jonathon Griffin, Jack Anthony and Tendai Mzungu were unavailable last week and small forward Michael Walters will miss eight weeks after damaging the posterior cruciate ligament in a knee in the WAFL, so the Dockers are limping through the season.
Harvey brought up the injury list after the game and said the new substitution rule could be playing a part in the injuries.
“We’re starting to see a lot of soft-tissue injuries. It may be reflective in capping rotations,” Harvey said.
“It seriously has to be looked at. It is taking its toll. Coaches know what is going on behind the scenes with their players from a GPS point of view and we will compare at the end of the year.”
Pavlich is a member of the laws of the game committee, so he played a role in the introduction of the interchange rule.
The six-times All-Australian said the committee had received documents relating to the impact of the rule but were yet to discuss them at a meeting.
He said everyone needed more information before decisions could be made.
“We’re probably at that stage now where there’s been some examples both in a positive and potentially negative way with the sub rule,” Pavlich said.
“I really believe it’s going to take until the end of the year to get a thorough understanding of all the analysis to do with the GPS stuff and injury rates.
“Let’s just sit back and wait for the entire year to pan out before we jump at shadows either way.”
Pavlich has been one of only seven Dockers to play every game this year. He’ll play his 250th game on Saturday night.
He could be joined by Griffin, Grover, Ballantyne, Mzungu and Barlow in what would be a huge boost for the team.
But Pavlich expected Barlow to be in and out of the team as he worked back to form and fitness.
“It was always going to be a chance with Mick that he’d play one, miss one, miss a couple,” Pavlich said.
“When it’s an injury of that significance, everyone has to temper their expectations … in what he does when he’s out there playing for us but certainly in his ability to back up week in, week out.
“We only had a six-day turnaround so the likelihood of him playing anyway was limited, let alone with him pulling up a bit sore.”