AFL authorities have initiated a controversial cap of 80 player rotations a match through this summer’s NAB Cup series and have already confirmed the regulation will be enforced in time for the 2014 premiership season.
Teams are restricted to a maximum of 20 changes in each quarter and the rotations cannot accumulate if the limit is not reached in any particular term through the match.
Sewell, one of the game’s most forthright and respected analysts of welfare issues, says too many regulations and rules are being introduced without care for players.
The 2008 Hawks premiership star claimed the rotation limit through the pre-season series was hampering fine-tuning of players’ summer training and preparation for the gruelling premiership home-and-away campaign.
He analysed that limits on rotations restricted coaches and fitness experts managing the amount of pre-season game-time players need ahead of the long premiership season.
“You cannot afford to carry anybody into a game, because you’re just absolutely hamstrung if somebody goes down or if there is a bit of a (injury) niggle,” Sewell said on a regular weekly appearance with Fox Footy.
“It seems that a lot of the rule changes that are made, the last consideration is the player’s welfare.”
Veteran Western Bulldogs utility Robert Murphy revealed that he had been unable to take a break during the last quarter of his side’s impressive come-from-behind NAB Cup victory over Sewell’s Hawks.
Top coaches Mick Malthouse from Carlton and Hawthorn's Alastair Clarkson have been especially scathing in their criticism of the new rotation cap restrictions.
Murphy disclosed that pre-match planning from Dogs players and management to cope with the new limit on rotations was divided up to five for each of the forward and defensive divisions and 10 among the on-ball battery.
Murphy, 30 with 230 senior games under his belt, confessed that he had been the candidate to go without a spell on the back of a full, highly successful and uninterrupted summer campaign.
The versatile Murphy was swung back into a key forward role after playing much of last season as a running-back defender.
One of the more outspoken players in the league, Murphy claimed he would have been concerned at the prospect of injury because of fatigue late into a match if he was unable to rotate to the interchange bench under the league’s new cap.
“How we worked it on Friday night was 80 rotations, so 20 a quarter,” Murphy explained.
“So we need a formula of how that’s going to work.
“It was five rotations for the forwards, 10 for the mids and five for the defenders.
“So, a forward and a defender miss out. They’re not coming off the ground at all.
“In the last quarter I couldn’t come off the ground and I was lucky I have had an uninterrupted run, so I wasn’t feeling too nervous.
“But if I had an interrupted pre-season I would have been really nervous.”