The AFL has announced tighter interpretations around the holding the ball rule in 2022.
Under the new interpretation, the AFL says:
Umpires will be less lenient towards Players who have had Prior Opportunity and do not immediately and Correctly Dispose of the Football when they are Legally Tackled under existing Law 18.6.2.
A Free Kick will be awarded against a Player who ducks their head prior to being Legally Tackled and does not immediately and Correctly Dispose of the Football. Umpire cues for Prior Opportunity includes: evading, fending, ducking, has a prior option (i.e. goes to handball / kick and decides not to), is balanced and steady, is awarded a mark or free-kick, or drives their head.
The league communicated the changes to the clubs on Monday.
It was also revealed that umpires will no longer warn players if they engage in time wasting and will instantly apply a 50m penalty.