PROMISING St Kilda forward Ahmed Saad has been forced to change his goalkicking routine because of a clampdown on players taking too long kicking for goal.
Saad is one of up to half-a-dozen players affected by the tightening of the 30-second limit on players shooting for goal, one of the less heralded of this year’s crop of changes to AFL rules and interpretations.
The AFL umpires department has spoken to Saad and Saints coach Scott Watters, and umpires have attended St Kilda training to help him adjust to the crackdown, in which umpires will call ”play on” more often if the player taking the shot exceeds the time limit.
Saad regularly moves back at least 35 metres from the man on the mark and will be forced to shorten that approach significantly given the time it consumes.
”He’ll go back and it will be another 25 seconds before he gets in [to kick], so he’s one who has probably had to modify what he’s done,” AFL umpires’ director Jeff Gieschen said on Wednesday.
”The umpires have been going out to the Saints and working with him, and they [the club] have been understanding of the situation.
”Scotty understood that, and St Kilda has been working with him. We just thought we’d be proactive. It’s not about Ahmed, it’s about all the players in the competition who were just stretching that time a little too long, so it’s just a tightening up of that.”
This season will also see a crackdown on the amount of time taken at kick-ins following a behind, the previous allowance of seven to eight seconds to a player kicking in now reduced to five or six.
That will save an estimated one to two minutes per game, but Gieschen said the Laws of the Game committee had also been keen to save time at the other end of the ground.
”They said to us we think some players just take far too long, and if you’re looking to speed quarters up, we don’t want players taking 45 seconds, so the whole process has been hurried up by five seconds,” Gieschen said.
”There are half-a-dozen players throughout the comp that probably stretch that right to the limit. We’ve always given them the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes that walking in can take an extra 10 to 15 seconds.
”Some players have just been told they’re the ones at risk, so they need to hurry it up a little bit, and they’ve done it so far in the NAB Cup. We’ve just let the clubs know, and they’re working with their players with that.
”We’ve timed them, and most of them comply within 21 or 22 seconds, so we’re talking about the ones that are well over 30, heading up towards 40 seconds from time to time.”
Saad was one of the biggest pluses of St Kilda’s 2012, finishing third in the Saints’ goalkicking with 28 goals after being plucked from VFL combination Northern Bullants.
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