Damien Hardwick has implored the 18 senior AFL coaches to take the lead and coach their players not to put themselves in danger by playing for free kicks as concussion remains an issue in the game.
The Richmond premiership mentor confirmed his players were already wearing new mouthguards that are fitted with a sensor chip to monitor the impact of head knocks.
But with several coaches now urging their charges not to bump to avoid head clashes, Hardwick said the next level was getting players to avoid putting themselves in avoidable dangerous positions.
“The thing I think we have to be stronger on as a coaching group is players trying to make the umpires’ job harder by fishing for free kicks, by lowering their heads, by falling at the knees,” Hardwick said on Wednesday.
“This is something we can look at as coaches to take out of the game. I don’t think it sends a great message to the lower levels. We are trying to protect the head as much as we can.
“So as 18 senior coaches we have to make sure our players play the game in the right way, in the spirit of the game and not look to draw free kicks from high contact.”
“There will be one debutant, possibly two, which will be exciting for our fans to see.”
🎥 Dimma’s full press conference available on https://t.co/ntieDHBaO6 shortly. pic.twitter.com/5AExDxRyzp
Richmond defender Dylan Grimes has long been a target of abuse for his habit of playing for free kicks.
Last year he even received death threats after being accused of staging for a controversial free kick in his team’s win over Essendon.
An Essendon fan was later charged by police for sending the threats, but he wasn’t convicted.
Hardwick said he was a huge supporter of anything that could help in the fight against concussion, including the data from the new mouthguards.
“We’re in the early stages of it and we’ll get more data and more analysis The more information we have the better we will be,” he said.
“Clubs have a strong interest in making sure their players have a long career but also life after footy as well. If there’s ever a doubt about players having a slight concussion, they don’t play.”
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