Zac Milbank

Having assessed the Power's data for 2011, Falloon is adamant the physical toll on players has increased with one less player being rotated from the interchange.

And the former Western Bulldogs staffer says those at non-Victorian clubs are at even greater risk of having their AFL lifespan reduced.

"I would think there's no doubt about that at all," said Falloon when asked if players' careers were under threat.

"And definitely for the interstate teams which travel every second week. Recovery is big enough in the AFL at the moment and players have to be meticulous in their preparation.

"Well that's gone to another level now, there's no doubt about that.

"There's a lot more responsibility on players who travel every second week interstate. They get home late from games because of flight schedules etc.

"There's a lot more onus on individuals now to make sure their preparation is perfect if they want to have longevity in this game."

Both Port Adelaide and Adelaide were forced to adjust their weekly training schedules near the midway point of the season as players struggled in their recovery after matches.

And Falloon - who said Port was also likely to readjust its pre-season regime this summer - said the club's numbers this year painted a concerning picture.

"They (players) are just spending more time on the ground and that has a significant impact," Falloon said.

"They need to train every week to keep a certain level of condition but also for the coaches to be able to continue to develop them and improve our game so it becomes a double-edged sword.

"Certainly a lot of clubs around the league, from those I talk to, are looking seri- ously at the design of their training drills and how they can do things differently so they can maintain the education of their players without wearing them down physically."

Despite the worrying trend, Falloon - and Adelaide physical performance manager Stephen Schwerdt - want the substitute rule to remain in 2012.

This would provide the league's fitness gurus with two full seasons of data to make an informed decision for 2013.

"From our point of view there's been a lot more collision injuries this year," Falloon said.

"So one point we could make is, because of the increased time on the ground and therefore fatigue, you do lose your physical integrity.

"Then you are more susceptible to make a poor decision and you are less physically strong in the contest. All of those things lead to injury so that should be a focus we look at as a group in the AFL over the next 12 months or so.

"Certainly the rule change has given the AFL what it wanted, to slow the game down a fraction."

Falloon predicted an all-in AFL fitness conference would take place to address the welfare of players.

"As a group we got together only a few weeks ago and discussed clubs collaborating to do research," Falloon said.


Zac Milbank

The Advertiser 15.09.2011



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