Medi-Sub calls AFLW “pretty weak,” says Crows coach Matthew Clarke, despite injury carnage in the opening rounds

AFLW coaches and players call for implementation of Medi-Sub rule when more than seven players suffer season-ending injuries after just two rounds of football.

But in a completely opposite position, Adelaide manager Matthew Clarke told reporters on Friday that he thought the proposal was “quite weak”.

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The medical reserve rule was introduced in men’s football to allow teams to have a full line-up if a player is medically unable to continue playing.

Unlike the men’s league, where 18 are on the field and four are on the bench, AFLW games are played with 16 on the field and five on the bench.

For the women, one emergency is allowed on a matchday, but the emergency is eliminated from the game if they do not come on the field before the final warm-up.

Hawthorn lost two members of the lead group, Tamara Luke (knee) and Louise Stephenson (ankle), last weekend, leaving the bench with just three players for the entire game.

Louise Stephenson is helped off the field during the second round match between Hawthorn and St Kilda at Box Hill City Oval September 4. Recognition: Dylan Burns/AFL photos via Getty Images

Melbourne key defender Libby Birch believes forcing players to play an entire game without a full bench increases the risk of injury.

“Run intensity and overall load are concentrated on fewer players,” Birch wrote in an opinion piece published Tuesday on the AFLW website.

“In a compressed season of just 10 rounds, every game counts.”

Hawthorn coach Bec Goddard agreed with Birch, saying she couldn’t understand why the AFLW didn’t have the rule from the start.

“Having the ability to use one of those players to make sure we can finish the game… that would be a really useful thing going forward,” Goddard told reporters Thursday.

Hawthorn trainer Bec Goddard says the medi-sub rule should be introduced in AFLW. Recognition: AAP

Goddard said the AFLW needs to take real action to protect players, especially when women are 4 to 6 times more likely to tear their ACLs.

Scroll for the full AFLW broadcast guide for round three

“An ACL injury is far more significant than just a football season,” Goddard said. “It affects personal life, her professional life.

“What we know now after six seasons and now six ACL injuries in two rounds of football is that there is a problem.”

But Clarke believes five on the bench is enough to handle an injury, “probably even two”.

Adelaide AFLW coach Matthew Clarke says calls for the introduction of the medi-sub rule are weak. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS) Recognition: AAP

“Also, we have unlimited exchanges and the quarters are shorter. “I don’t think it’s necessary.”

Across town, Port Adelaide manager Lauren Arnell said she has no view of the Medi-Sub and will play with all the numbers on the field and on the bench.

“I think once you start changing things, like you see with AFL men, different things are manipulated by different people,” Arnell said.

“We manage what is in front of us.”

Port Adelaide played the Western Bulldogs last weekend where young bulldog Britney Gutknecht suffered a horrible leg injury.

Play was suspended for 20 minutes to await the arrival of another ambulance to meet a league requirement of at least one ambulance being present for each game.

When asked if the game should have been paused for that long, Clarke added that it happened with local soccer games every weekend across the state.

“From a league perspective, we want to offer our players an environment that is absolutely best practice,” said Clarke.

“If it means waiting for the ambulance to come, then so be it.”

Round three is the AFLW Indigenous Round and will also feature derbies between Brisbane and Gold Coast and Sydney and Greater Western Sydney.

Powerhouse Adelaide takes on North Melbourne in the match of the round.

The Power’s Laquoiya Cockatoo-Motlap and Litonya Cockatoo-Motlap with The Crows’ Danielle Ponter (centre) before the Indigenous Round in Season 7 of AFLW. Recognition: Sarah Scheid/AFL photos via Getty Images

How to watch all third round AFLW games


Western Bulldogs vs. Fremantle (Ikon Park)

Sydney: 5 p.m. live on 7mate and 7plus

Melbourne: 5 p.m. live on 7mate and 7plus

Brisbane: 5 p.m. live on 7mate and 7plus

Adelaide: 4:30 p.m. live on 7mate and 7plus

Perth: 3 p.m. live on 7mate and 7plus

SATURDAY (Fox games available on 7mate in home states)

Adelaide Crows v Nth Mel @ 12pm CST 7 buddy (ADE ONLY)

Sydney Swans v GWS at 2.30pm AEST 7 buddy (SYD ONLY)

Brisbane Lions v SUNS at 4.30pm AEST 7 buddy (BRIS ONLY)


Geelong vs. Collingwood

Sydney: 4 p.m. live on 7plus

Melbourne: 4 p.m. live on channel 7 and 7plus

Brisbane: 4 p.m. live on 7plus

Adelaide: 3:30 p.m. live on 7plus

Perth: 2 p.m. live on 7mate and 7plus


Richmond vs. Hawthorn (Punt Road)

Sydney: 16:00 live on 7mate and 7plus

Melbourne: 4 p.m. live on channel 7 and 7plus

Brisbane: 16:00 live on 7mate and 7plus

Adelaide: 3:30 p.m. live on 7plus

Perth: 2 p.m. live on 7plus

James and Tania Hird cheated excessive amounts of money.

James and Tania Hird cheated excessive amounts of money. Medi-Sub calls AFLW “pretty weak,” says Crows coach Matthew Clarke, despite injury carnage in the opening rounds

James Brien

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