More AFL player-coaches likely: GWS's Shaw

GWS's Heath Shaw expects more AFL players to add a coaching role to their on-field roles in future.
GWS's Heath Shaw expects more AFL players to add a coaching role to their on-field roles in future.

GWS veteran Heath Shaw has forecast a rise in active players adding coaching roles to their schedules as AFL clubs seek to keep costs down in coming years.

The COVID-19 stoppage has savaged the finances throughout the league, with clubs told to cut football-department spending by 40 per cent.

It is unclear what will happen in 2021 but the widespread expectation is that spending won't return to pre-coronavirus levels for some time.

Shaw, who is mulling whether to extend his career into an 18th AFL season, believes the situation could prompt more teams to use their best on-field football brains in a coaching capacity.

"A lot of clubs will look at that going forward because we've had to cut back a fair bit," he told reporters.

"If guys can play dual roles at clubs it helps out the club and even helps out the development of that person.

"If you can be a player on a list but still do a coaching role, whether it be development or helping out with the reserves when that comes back in the next couple of years, then I think that's definitely an option."

Shaw, who returned to training on Monday, added experienced players would have to pick up the slack this season in many capacities given staff numbers were down.

"We're probably going to have to help a little bit more in terms of that leadership and it might even mean coaching as well," the defender said.

"We understand that and we're willing to do anything to get us into a position to win a premiership.

"If that means putting in a bit of extra time... everyone is embracing that."

Hawthorn's four-time premiership winners Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell both recently segued into coaching as players.

Hodge and Mitchell extended their careers at Brisbane and West Coast respectively, delivering guidance as a teammate then part of the football department.

Chad Cornes, Luke Power, James McDonald and Dean Brogan all combined coaching and playing as part of the Giants' maiden AFL season, while the club's AFLW captain Alicia Eva was helping mentor the men's NEAFL side prior to the shutdown.

Shaw's future was a topic of near-constant speculation in 2019 and it could be the same in 2020, with a condensed season and shorter matches prompting him to reconsider whether to retire as planned.

"I'll worry about that at the end of the year but definitely a bit of a question mark," he said.

Australian Associated Press