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Clarkson: Clarity is crucial

JLT2: Hawks inspired by Eagle success Despite losing star midfielder Tom Mitchell, Alastair Clarkson will draw confidence from the West Coast Eagles who won last year's premiership without numerous star players

Alastair Clarkson won't be joining the conga line of coaches calling for runner restrictions to be lifted but has raised concerns with other elements of the AFL's rule changes. 

The four-time Hawthorn premiership coach is generally supportive of what football boss Steve Hocking and co are trying to achieve, particularly in providing a scoring boost. 

However, Clarkson wants to see better communication from AFL House on the "nuances" of the new rules and interpretations, such as the contentious 50m penalty advancement rule.

He described as "farcical" the situation in the Port Adelaide-North Melbourne JLT Community Series match, where there were a series of back-to-back 50m penalties and another that should have been paid.

Read: Pick of the goalkickers

"Some of the responsibility is with the clubs and some is with the players to actually know the rules," Clarkson told AFL.com.au of the new 50m penalty interpretation. 

"But then, with any rule like that, whoever got the 50m penalty (in the Port-North game), he was more or less running at anyone in the protected area and he's saying, 'Give us another 50m, I've been impeded'.

"Correspondence has to occur whenever there are nuances like that … (because) it's going to happen to us next week or the week after.

"That sharing of information is absolutely crucial, because at the end of the day we have a product we're putting on show and we don't want that sort of by-play going on in our game. 

"The commentators go nuts, the coaches go nuts, the fans go nuts, the players are wondering what the hell's going on … but it can be fixed very quickly." 

Clarkson also labelled Hocking's match-day staff limit, beyond club runners, as "ludicrous" and suggested doctors now often had an impeded view of the on-field action from the interchange bench.

Teams will have 26 people in various non-playing roles in 2019, down from last year's 30, and only 12 are permitted on the bench.

Just six staff from the coaches' box can enter the field pre-match and in breaks.

"I like the idea of what Steve Hocking's bringing in (with runners), but I don't like the dramatic nature of using them uninhibited to now having a constraint that is more or less zero," Clarkson said. 

"But this whole thing 'Hock's' trying to do with cleaning up the ground of (non-playing) personnel means you've got something as ludicrous as doctors and physios now having to sit in the enclosure of the box.

"I mean, at quarter-time, who cares about how many people are on the ground? There are a lot of people on there with the players, but whether there happens to be 30, 35 or 40, who really cares?

"You're nearly allowed to have more people holding up the banner than you are coaches now."

There was regular dialogue between the Hawks, officiating umpires and the AFL in reaction to individual incidents throughout the JLT Community Series. 

Two of those came in Hawthorn's clash with Brisbane two weekends ago, including an occasion where the Lions started at a centre bounce with only 17 players, only for a footballer to charge off the bench and influence the subsequent play.

"We rang the AFL to say 'I thought it was 6-6-6' and they said, 'Oh, nah, if you choose to have only three men on the ground, that's your choice' and we're like 'Don't tell us it's 6-6-6 then'," he said.

"You need to tell us you're allowed to have only three on the ground or 17 or whatever, but don't tell us it's 6-6-6. That was news to us." 

David Mirra left the field under duress with a trainer in that same game, but the Hawks weren't given extra time for his replacement to move into his starting position, because a stretcher wasn't involved. 

They subsequently received a warning, which resulted in Hawthorn officials seeking clarification from field umpire Ray Chamberlain.

That incident appears to be one of the triggers for the rule adjustment that followed ahead of JLT2, which was outlined in an AFL email to clubs that AFL.com.au obtained. 

The email explaining the change read: "The injured player must be in the hands of a doctor, physio or trainer and clearly making their way to the interchange area (not just stationary on the field).

"One of the field umpires to observe this during the restart period and communicates to the emergency umpire that we have an 'injured player coming off before the restart'. 

"The replacement player is able to come onto the field immediately … once the injured player is off the field, they can restart."

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs