NEW Tolland coach Joel Irlam believes the Pascoe Cup's return to a substitution rule could help bridge the gap between the biggest and smallest clubs.
Teams were previously able to interchange players in and out of games an unlimited amount of times, but this season each team will be given five substitutes per match.
The rule will only apply to first grade, with lower grades continuing with the unlimited for
Irlam said it could give the fittest teams an advantage and even bring the top and bottom teams closer together, with depth of players no longer as big an edge.
"I'm pretty happy with it (rule change)," Irlam said.
"I'm a bit old school but it makes things more strategic in how you want to play the game, how you use your bench and it could help level the playing field a bit across the competition.
"Coaches will have to think about what format and structure they're playing, and for me personally I'm looking forward to being held accountable for that."
Irlam expects most of last year's squad, which finished eighth, to return for 2020, while a few new faces are getting a feel for things at training as they weigh up options.
He hopes a big early focus on improving the squad's fitness will reap dividends with the substitution rule in mind.
"There was a lot of returning players and a few new players that have come along who look like solid prospects," Irlam said.
"We haven't even touched a ball yet, we're focusing a lot on strength and conditioning. It's pretty different to probably what they're used to but being a qualified personal trainer myself, I'm trying to get the whole group a bit trimmer and stronger.
"I want to make sure the 11 I put on the field each week can get through what I expect of them, because having a breather and coming back on is impossible.
"The idea is anyone who gets on the paddock can play a full game if needed."