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AFL confirms controversial new medical substitute rule for 2021 season after spate of concussions

The AFL will allow clubs to use a medical substitute in the 2021 season, with the player to be allowed onto the field in case of an injury.

The league has opted with a medical substitute to be introduced as the 23rd player in a team’s squad, despite calls from coaches for the substitute to be purely for concussion incidents.

The AFLPA hit out at the medical substitute idea on Tuesday saying as much as possible needed to be done to protect players from the long-term effects of concussion.

“Concussion, which was where this started, is a very serious issue so the steps we take to minimise the risks are really important,” AFLPA boss Paul Marsh told SEN.

“Players, ourselves (AFLPA), even coaches that I’ve spoken to in the last couple of weeks, are pretty frustrated at this process.

“This was a foreseeable problem when the rule changes were made last year around rotations, the man on the mark rule and the return to normal quarter lengths.


The AFL will allow clubs to use a medical substitute in 2021.
Credit: Getty

“On the eve of the season we’re just putting a Band-Aid on an issue here that could have been dealt with earlier.”

It is unclear what type of injuries will trigger a medical substitute.

More to come.

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