‘Stupid’ problem AFL hasn’t got right

During the recent off-season, the AFL introduced a series of rule changes to combat defensive play and generate fatigue.

However, a “stupid” move during Thursday evening’s clash between the Sydney Swans and Essendon Bombers proves there’s still some room for improvement.

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The AFL reduced the maximum number of interchange rotations for the 2021 premiership to 75 per team, down from 90 last year.

There were concerns the rule change would create more injuries, so the league also introduced a controversial medical substitution less than 48 hours before last month’s season opener.

Less than five minutes into Thursday evening’s game at the SCG, Essendon forward Jake Stringer snapped a classy goal to get the Bombers on the scoreboard.

But despite being on the field for only a few minutes, the 26-year-old was immediately rotated out of the contest.

Jake Stringer of the Bombers.Source:Getty Images

Stringer kicked three consecutive goals against St Kilda last weekend, but the Essendon coaching staff seemingly didn’t believe he would repeat the feat.

Former Geelong star Dwayne Russell was unimpressed with the move, saying on AFL Nation: “He’s the hottest player on the ground at that moment, it’s just stupid to come off. It’s a sign there are still too many rotations in the game.”

Stringer scored his second goal of the night soon after returning to the action, helping Essendon once again reclaim the lead and briefly widen the margin to 25 points.

Has Stringer been watching tapes of Tom Hawkins?

He picks up where he left off last week 🙌#AFLSwansDonspic.twitter.com/8uVWrmGIZr

Jake Stringer has been so great already. Such great defensive pressure in the forward 50. Merrett is everywhere. Sydney probably should be winning with some of the shots they had on goal and how much uncontested possession they got in the first 15 mins, but whatever. BOMBERS!

The first half in Sydney was headlined by a cluster of young guns, most notably Bombers teenager Nik Cox.

Playing in just his fourth AFL game, Cox pulled off a bootlace pick-up at speed before kicking a goal from 45 metres on his weak foot to extend Essendon’s lead in the opening term.

The 19-year-old utility also contributed 10 disposals and two marks in the first half, and looms as a genuine contender for the Rising Star nomination.

After being rested for Sydney’s round three fixture, footy icon Buddy Franklin booted two majors before halftime.

Meanwhile, Swans forward Isaac Heeney is expected to be sidelined for a month after suffering a broken hand.

He missed a large portion of the 2021 premiership after suffering a serious ankle injury against the Richmond Tigers.

Sydney fought back in the second term with a six-goal blitz to reduce the margin, before a tightly-contested arm wrestle in the third quarter set up a thrilling finish.

The Bombers held a 10.6 (66) to 9.11 (65) lead at three-quarter time.

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