JUNIOR footballers vying to test themselves at senior level have been granted reprieve with the Warrnambool and District league executive voting to reinstate the under 17.5 substitute rule.
The rule allows a nominated junior to replace a senior player on the field and is often used as insurance for injuries or fatigue.
WDFNL president Barry Crimmin said the rule was brought back into play after consultation with clubs.
The second-year leader said initial discussions with clubs had led the executive to believe the rule was unwanted.
Crimmin told The Standard the substitute concept was solely focused on developing junior players, dismissing calls for the rule to morph into a four-player bench.
“It’s not a fourth interchange player – never has been, never will be,” he said.
“We’re giving the clubs an opportunity – because we actually love the rule. We think it’s a great rule.
“The clubs have got to adopt it and accept it as it is. It’s for the development of a kid, who has played an under 17.5 game, to get some senior experience.
“That’s all it is. They’re not an extra interchange player.”
Crimmin said the executive had waited for junior development officer Ashley Porra to return from an overseas trip to begin negotiations about the rule’s return.
The rule is effective immediately, with clubs allowed to name a under 17.5 substitute on the bench for this Saturday’s fixtures.
The rule remains the same as the one in effect in 2016.