A Rough Guide

Select a position to view that player's role in the game

Interchange Bench Full Back Left Back Pocket Right Back Pocket Left Half-Back Flank Centre Half-Back Right Half-Back Flank Left Wing Right Wing Rover Ruckman Rover Ruck Rover Centre Half Forward Left Half Forward Flank Right Half Forward Flank Left Forward Pocket Right Forward Pocket Full Forward

Aussie Rules Football is a contact sport played between two teams of eighteen players on an oval-shaped field, often a modified cricket ground.

The game features frequent physical contests, spectacular marking, fast movement of both players and the ball and high scoring.

interchange bench
a team position
It consists of players who are part of the selected team but are not currently on the field of play.
At AFL level, each team is permitted four interchange players and a maximum of ninety total player interchanges during a game.
Players have no limit to the number of times they may individually be changed; an interchange can occur at any time during the game including during gameplay.
The four players named on the interchange bench in the teamsheet (submitted ninety minutes before the game) must be the four interchange players who start on the bench. They may be substituted immediately if the coach wishes.


full back
a key position in defence
The fullback position has always been a purely defensive role, with the ability to accelerate and change direction quickly with the aim of stopping the full-forward from getting the ball and scoring.
The fullback often starts a chain of passes up the ground move the ball out of the back and down the field quickly.
The defensive aspect of the position remains important. Spoiling the ball is also of utmost importance. The fullback often kicks the ball back into play after a point has been scored, although some teams prefer a midfielder or the small back pockets for this role, freeing the (typically taller) fullback player to attempt to mark the kick in.


back pocket
a playing position deep in defence
Either of the two players who defend the areas on either side of the goal front.
Back pocket players need to have good spoiling skills and usually, quality back-pockets are noted for their hardness.
They generally play on the smaller, faster forward pockets and let the fullback play on the stronger full forward.
Some are small, fast players, whose role is to clear a loose ball from defence or play on a forward of similar size and speed. Others are 'mid-sized' defenders, with enough height and strength to contest or spoil marks and enough mobility to fulfil the first role.
Back pocket is not an exclusive position. Tall defenders (i.e. full back/centre half-back) may play in the back pocket to match up effectively on a tall forward playing in the forward pocket.


half‑back flank
a position on the half-back line
The half-back line consists of two half-back flankers and the centre half-back.
The half-back flank was traditionally a defensive position, where reliability and toughness were more important than attacking flair.
In the modern game, these attributes are combined with the ability to run and carry the ball as well as take on the opposition in a counter-attacking style.
Half-back flankers are the first line of defence and key players in winning the ball, creating and assisting in attack.


a position either side of the centre
The wingers control the open spaces either side of the ground.
They need to be highly skilled, especially in kicking.
Wingmen also require considerable pace and stamina, as they run up and down the ground linking play between defence and attack.


a follower
One of three players so-called because they follow the ball around the ground, as opposed to playing in a set position.
In modern football, the rover, ruck rover, centreman and wingmen are often grouped together as midfielders.
A rover's role is to lurk around centre bounces and stoppages to receive the ball from a ruckman or ruck rover and complete a clearance.
Rovers are typically the smallest player on the ground.


ruck rover
a follower
One who roves around the ruck, as opposed to playing in a set position.
The ruck rover's role is to be directly beneath the flight of the ball when a ruckman taps the ball down, allowing an easy take away or clearance from a stoppage.


typically a tall and athletic player
The ruckman's job is to contest with the opposing ruckman at centre-bounces that take place at the start of each quarter or after each goal, and at stoppages (i.e., boundary throw ins, ball ups).
Traditionally, ruckman have simply been tall players with limited skill and speed, whose only job was to provide a contest in the ruck.
In recent times, however, ruckmen have become faster and more skilled, so they can play as an extra midfielder in between ruck contests.
The ruckman is one of the most important players on the field. They are often key to coaching strategy and winning centre clearances which result in the most goal kicking opportunities (inside 50s).
The ruckman usually uses his height (typically players are over 195 cm tall) to palm/tap the ball down so that a ruck rover or rover can run onto it.
The ruckman needs to be able to control the ball by palm tap or fist with outstretched arms.
The ruckman must rely on his vertical leap; rucking often involves vigorous mid-air collisions with the opposing ruckman.


half-forward flank
a position on the half‑forward line
Standing wide of the centre half-forward, the half-forward flankers provide an alternate target for balls coming from the midfield.
The directly opposing player is a half-back.
Half-forward flankers usually move the ball into the forward line along the flanks. They might kick the ball into the forward line, pass the ball to another running player, or have a shot at goal themselves.
These days half-forward flankers usually push into the midfield and, rather than being a specialist position, half-forward flank can be played by centres, wingers, rovers/ruck rovers, or even attacking half-back flankers.


centre half forward
a key position on the half‑forward line
The centre half‑forward's role is usually the most demanding of any player on the field, with a tall frame (for good marking skills), strength and athleticism required.
The directly opposing player is a centre‑half-back.
A centre half-forward who is strongly built and specialises in charging packs is often categorised as a power forward.
Usually the best backman will be used to cover a quality CHF, unless the opposing full-forward is so good they take priority. Thus, an attacking team with a solid combination of both centre half-forward and full-forward will seriously stretch a defence.


full forward
a key position on the field of play
Full forwards are good at one-on-one contests with the opposition and are the main target in the forward line when attacking.
As well as contesting marks with their strength, full forwards will try to run into space (this is known as leading, leading for the ball or leading into space), to shake off their defender and take an uncontested mark. It is a position with a focus on kicking goals.
This means that the full forward needs to be fast, but only in short bursts.
Some teams have experimented by playing a smaller and faster player (possibly a former forward pocket or flanker) at full forward in order to beat the defender with speed rather than strength.
In Aussie Rules, where players do not stick to a single position, the full-forward is often referred to as a Key‑Forward and can often switch positions with the centre half‑forward for team balance reasons.


forward pocket
a key position on the field of play
The main target in the forward line when attacking.
The forward pocket is designed as either a role for a second full forward (also known as a third key forward) or for players who are smaller but faster and more agile and capable of kicking brilliantly on the run (this is the more traditional forward pocket).
Many forward pockets, like rovers, are quick thinking and opportunistic crumbing players. This means that they need to be short enough to pick up the ball quickly after it hits the ground from a contest, think and move quickly to evade potential tackles, and kick or set up a goal.
Crumbing forward pockets do not exclusively crumb the ball. Sometimes, they lead for the ball like full forwards, so they have to be competent at marking the ball. Some forward pockets can even jump so high that they can contest marks, despite their lack of height.


Aussie Rules Explained


The league was founded as the Victorian Football League as a breakaway from the previous Victorian Football Association, with its inaugural season commencing in 1897.

The competition's name was changed to the Australian Football League for the 1990 season, after expanding to other states throughout the 1980s.


The AFL, the sport's only fully professional competition, is the nation's wealthiest sporting body.

Through the AFL Commission, the AFL also serves as the sport's governing body, and is responsible for controlling the laws of the game with the advice of the AFL's Laws of the Game Committee.

The Oval

The sport is also played at amateur level in many countries and in several variations.

Australian football has the highest spectator attendance and television viewership of all sports in Australia. The annual Grand Final is the highest attended club championship event in the world.