Jesaulenko labels game un-Australian
Jesaulenko labels game 'un-Australian'

AFL legend Alex Jesaulenko has denounced the modern version of the game that made him famous as "un-Australian", revealing it has forced him from even going to watch his beloved Carlton.

Jesaulenko, who played 279 games for the Blues and St Kilda between 1967 and 1981, claimed to The Weekend West that the game was now rife with players who were simply developed as athletes and lacked the sport's traditional skills.

"The players are just losing the skills," Jesaulenko said.

"What the players of today have improved on is their fitness and their running capacity and their tackling. Every other skill has gone backwards.

"Australian Rules is made on the fact that there is a place for players who are short, tall, slow or fast and there is a specialist position for him.

"It has been made on a big ground for all that to happen and it was called Australian Rules.

"Now we've got AFL, you don't know where anyone is playing, the skills are hopeless and they are only ever chipping the ball.

"It's little wonder Hawthorn are the best team because they have the best skills.

"If you can't run in today's game, you can't play and that to me is unfair … it's un-Australian."

Jesaulenko said while he did not begrudge players for the big salaries they now earnt, he believed it had impacted negatively on their passion for the game.

He recalled receiving a bank book showing a balance of $400 as his total first-season payment at Carlton as a 21-year-old in 1967.

He laid the blame for football becoming what many believe is a hybrid of other sports at the feet of out-going AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou and his staff and did not anticipate change for the better any time soon.

"Unless there is a change of regime bringing in people who think the game is more important than the brand or the money, it won't happen," Jesaulenko said. "But I can still see money winning over the game."

Jesaulenko, who played against current Carlton coach Mick Malthouse before his 1981 retirement, believed the Blues should stand by Malthouse despite their poor start.

"He hasn't got a magic wand," Jesaulenko said.

"The magic wand is finding better players. They haven't got them and the draft restricts who you can get.

"Their list has been the same for the last five years and they haven't done anything to improve it. Now Mick has to rebuild it."

The West Australian

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