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Could runners be banned?

Jason Phelan and Roger Vaughan, AAP  June 16, 2017 4:58 PM

AFL 2017 Media - Indigenous Round Launch

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan

NICK Maxwell may have inadvertently brought about the extinction of the AFL runner.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirmed on Friday the league will look at abolishing runners altogether at the end of the season.

Greater Western Sydney received a warning from the AFL this week about the role of their runner after a contentious outing against Carlton.

The Giants flatly rejected suggestions Maxwell had placed himself in positions to block space during Blues' kick-ins or was coaching on the field instead of passing on messages from Leon Cameron.

But the debate over the role of runners sparked by the focus on Maxwell doesn't look like it will have a happy ending for the men in pink.

"Simon Lethlean and the footy department will talk to the clubs about whether we need them," McLachlan told 3AW.

"I think the leadership of the coaches this week has been instructive (in answering) the question ... 'Maybe we don't even need them'.

"Certainly there seems to be a unified voice: 'Get them off the field'."

The Maxwell controversy comes three years after the AFL had cracked down on runners spending too much time on the ground, coaching players and being too close to the play.

McLachlan believes the game may have moved past the need for them.

"Increasingly, with rotations now, there are actually people having a good debate over whether we even need runners because the players are coming off so regularly and the coach can talk to them directly," he said.

"Players can take messages out because they are well-drilled and well-coached bright men.

"I think it's a good question."