- from afl.com.au
WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge is worried the scrapping of runners would cause a "significant change" to the game.
On Saturday morning after Beveridge's media conference at Whitten Oval ended, the coach left the room but in highly unusual circumstances, he returned a minute later and requested to be asked about runners.
"When we think about our game, on a very, very big arena, and there's no stoppages – I mean there's stoppages but the game doesn't stop … and you need to get messages to your players, how do you get them (there) if you haven't got a runner?" Beveridge asked.
"The big problem is too, when you think about the junior level as well, if we don't have runners at AFL level, do you then say to the under-15s at St Peters East Bentleigh, you can't have a runner. Kids need direction."
Beveridge's comments come in the wake of the controversy surrounding the role Greater Western Sydney runner Nick Maxwell played in last Sunday's game against Carlton.
The Giants have emphatically denied commentators' suggestions Maxwell was strategically used to block space along the centre square at Carlton kick-ins, but the AFL has written to GWS to raise concerns Maxwell coached players on the ground during the game.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said he wouldn't be too stressed if the AFL banned runners, which could happen as early as next season, according to CEO Gillon McLachlan.
"For any coach to say 'I don't mind' or 'I don't care' or 'Let's get them off the ground', we've got to have runners," Beveridge said.
"From a coaching perspective, I need to message players and I can't wait until the end of the quarter. For strategy, you need runners."
Beveridge has noticed runners positioned advantageously for their teams but didn't think it was on purpose.
"We see opposition runners in holes at different times but we just think that's circumstantial," he said.
The coach said he didn't use runners that way.
"If runners are out there filling holes and that's a strategy, obviously the coaching panel of that team isn't using the runner like we do," he said.
"I'd imagine it's not just us … but we feel quite strongly that we need runners in the game."