Essendon Coach John Worsfold left dinner at AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan’s place on Tuesday night with the impression runners would be retained.
However, he admitted he couldn’t be sure after sitting through a broad discussion on the issues affecting the game with nine other coaches.
“I think runners are safe,” Worsfold said. “But I don’t know that.”
The value of runners was questioned following the Blues-Giants clash with Greater Western Sydney runner Nick Maxwell being cautioned by the AFL for his positioning on the ground when Carlton was kicking in after a behind.
Worsfold said ‘the runner’ role enjoyed support from the 10 coaches at the annual dinner.
“Most of the coaches that were there last night still saw value in having the runners,” Worsfold said.
Worsfold said the discussion remained focus on how decisions affected the game and the look of the game.
“Is it where we want it? Is it an attractive game? Is it AFL footy? That is what we want to maintain. We don’t want to morph into another game,” Worsfold said.
That led to discussion on how umpires are interpreting free kicks in congestion, the deliberate out-of-bounds rule, score reviews, as well as many of the hot topics raised in public forums in recent weeks.
The Bombers coach joked that he wasn’t sure how much change in AFL thinking would come about because of the discussion.
“Gill was in charge and he did a couple of straw polls and I think he miscounted a couple of times and it might have gone the way he wanted,” Worsfold said.
The AFLX concept was also on the agenda and Worsfold said the coaches at the dinner were broadly supportive of the idea.
“Everyone was pretty open to it, understanding what it could achieve and what it could help with the game and how it works,” Worsfold said.
He said coaches just wanted to make sure the players weren’t exposed to a higher injury risk if the game was introduced.
He said ‘dinner at Gill’s’ was a welcome addition to the coaches calendar.
“Every topic we talk about is about how do we make this game better,” Worsfold said.
“[It] doesn’t mean we all see eye to eye. We all have different opinions on various things.”
Source: Essendon FC’s website