AAP AFL

Dogs confused by AFL holding-the-ball rule

By AAP Newswire

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge concedes he has no idea about the AFL's holding-the-ball interpretation and has stopped addressing the rule with his players because of the confusion.

The 2016 premiership-winning mentor made the startling admission on Sunday, less than a fortnight after the AFL sent memos to clubs and the media in an attempt to clarify the rule after its application was tightened mid-season.

It comes as the Bulldogs prepare to take on ladder leaders Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Monday.

"We pretty much just gloss over it, we don't talk about it," Beveridge said.

"There's too many other things that we need to focus on and too many things that we need to get right in the game to be concerned with that.

"It's a significant part of the game because it can win and lose games but we've just got to control what we can control, and that's one thing we can't."

Despite the AFL's attempt at clarification last month, Beveridge said there is still widespread confusion around the interpretation.

He said the recent tweak had made life difficult for umpires, who have been accused of making wildly inconsistent holding-the-ball decisions - so much so that the AFL took the unusual step of releasing a statement after round seven admitting to on-field errors.

"It's a shame," Beveridge said.

"We can't address it because we don't know what the interpretation is going to be and we're not sure what the rule is.

"We'll just play and our players will just do their best to make sure we clear the ball when we get tackled and maybe take the opportunity to really clamp down when the opposition get the footy."

Beveridge confirmed Josh Dunkley would return ahead of schedule from an ankle syndesmosis injury for the clash with the Power.

The tough midfielder replaces Matt Suckling, who will miss at least a month with a torn hamstring.

Key forward Aaron Naughton (ankle syndesmosis) is still at least one week away.