The AFL on Monday announced they would be implementing stricter holding the ball interpretations in 2022 and will show less leniency to players with prior opportunity, those who don’t dispose of the ball correctly and players who duck into tackles.
The last of those three is of particular interest to former Port Adelaide defender Hamish Hartlett, who admits players ducking into tackles “irritates (him) beyond belief”.
The Power lost an Elimination Final to West Coast on a Luke Shuey goal after the final siren in overtime in 2017 after the midfielder drew high contact in a tackle, making it an especially sore sport for Hartlett.
“I cannot stand it when people duck, intentionally lower their knees and their legs to duck into a tackle and get a high free kick. It irritates me beyond belief,” the former Port Adelaide defender said on SEN SA Breakfast.
“When they drop the knees and raise the arm to try and draw a high free kick it p-sses me off beyond anything you can imagine.
“That exact incident (a player ducking) cost us an Elimination Final against the West Coast Eagles a few years ago.
“Luke Shuey, who I get along with well off-field, Jared Polec just grazed him across his shoulder as he dropped his knees and his legs, cost us an Elimination Final.
“I’m very glad that they’re going to clamp down on that rule in particular.”
Hartlett is happy in general that the league is amending the holding the ball rule, believing the interpretation of it in recent years has been too hard to follow for players and fans alike.
“It’s been an absolute shambles the holding the ball rule for a number of years. There’s too many elements to it,” he said.
“There certainly has been a lot of frustration around the interpretation of that rule for a long period of time, so let’s hope it becomes slightly clearer this year.”
The AFL will also be stricter on players using tactics to delay the game in 2022, with umpires told to no longer give warnings if players hold up play.