AFL great Kevin Bartlett thinks umpires need to ask themselves whether or not a player is interfering with the play, before paying a 50m penalty for encroaching into the 10m protected zone.
The protected zone has caused players, coaches and fans frustration across the competition, with inconsistencies fogging the reasoning for implementing the rule.
According to Bartlett, the umpires need to become more astute at determining if the player in the zone is actually impacting the player who has the ball.
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“We know there’s a lot of decisions in our game where you’ve got to make up your mind with what’s actually happening, such as when someone is running with the ball,” he told SEN’s KB and The Doc.
“You got to run 15 metres, if you run more than 15 metres, well obviously without bouncing, you get a free kick, so that’s an interpretation.
“I think surely the umpire can make an interpretation whether a player is running in a position that’s going to affect the play.
“Would that be part of umpiring, is that the art of being a good umpire, that I can actually tell you, the guy has taken the mark, I’m watching the play, a guy is going out left laterally and isn’t showing any attention whatsoever, is he interfering with the play, no he is not, that’s ok.
“If someone is interfering with the play, I’m going to ping you because you’re interfering with the play.”
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott voiced his displeasure with the rule after his side’s win over Gold Coast on the weekend.
“For the frustration of everyone, yes (we need to fix it now),” he said.
“I just watch footy as a fan Thursday, Friday, Saturday night and it frustrated me as a neutral observer.
“Today we had a few examples where guys were trying to get out of there and it’ll frustrate me even more if the umpires say that technically they were correct.”