AFL Riverina will trial rolling substitutions in A grade netball competitions for the 2023 season.
Board member Janine Fitzsimmons has spearheaded the idea, saying it came to her while watching finals games this season.
Unlimited, rolling substitutions are currently used in the national Super Netball competition, and Fitzsimmons said she is excited for the impact the change could have on the local game.
"We just thought it brings a different perspective to the game for us, it changes it up a little bit, it's going to make it very tactical," Fitzsimmons said.
"It's going to change the whole look of the game by introducing this, you only have to watch it on the Suncorp Netball, you're bringing on fresh legs every five minutes if you want to."
Fitzsimmons said the change will cut down on both necessary and non-necessary injury timeouts.
Ahead of announcing the change Fiztsimmons consulted with both umpires and A grade coaches to determine if it was the right move for the leagues.
She said that she'd received nothing but positive feedback from coaches, with many expressing they'd like to see the change implemented across all grades.
It's expected the biggest impact on teams rolling substitutions will have relates to playing-coaches, who will likely need team managers to run their bench while playing.
For a reserve to take the court mid-way through a quarter, they will wait in a designated substitution area and can enter the game once the player coming off the court has reached and tagged them on.
Teams can use multiple sets of bibs to ensure faster changes however players will need to ensure they are not offside when entering or exiting the court.
"If it's the goalkeeper, they can't go out of their third, so they come to the side of the court, move down the side of the court and exchange with the person, they hit hands and the other person goes on to take their place," Fitzsimmons said.
AFL Riverina plans on holding two pre-season gala days next year to give clubs the opportunity to test the new system ahead of round one.
"The gala day will give players, umpires, coaches a bit of an insight into the changes as well and then if there's anything that we need to iron out before the season starts we can go back to that day and look at what worked and didn't work," Fitzsimmons said.
Approximately a quarter way through the 2023 season clubs and officials will meet again to review how the trial is progressing.
The change will also impact volunteers filling out score cards and team sheets. Fitzsimmons said the league will work to make sure there are no complicated changes to the sheets that may confuse or deter volunteers.
Fitzsimmons hopes the change will provide a better netball experience for all players, and would like to see it implemented through all senior and junior grades in the future.
"At a junior level we've got so many clubs that are really full with numbers, so if you've got this ruling it just makes it so much easier," she said.
"They're down to 12-minute quarters in some of the junior games. If they're getting four minutes a quarter, or three minutes, they're feeling like they're really part of the team instead of sitting on the bench, for three quarters and maybe getting one quarter on court."
Rolling substitutions were introduced to Super Netball in the 2020 season. While Fitzsimmons has taken inspiration from the league for this, she assures AFL Riverina super goals are not on the horizon.
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