Melbourne Victory defender Rhys Williams has criticised the use of video referee assistants in the A-League this season, claiming an over-reliance on technology is taking the physicality out of the game.
Williams, who spent a decade playing for and captaining Middlesbrough in one of the most physically challenging competitions in the world, England's Championship, says too much scrutiny on tackles and challenges is in danger of turning the game into a non-contact sport.
The central defender has himself been on the sharp end of the video assistant's scrutiny twice this season, once for a tackle in the Melbourne derby which eventually led to City's Osama Malik leaving the pitch due to injury and in round three when he jostled with Adelaide's captain Isaias, dragging the latter to the ground.
On both occasions no action was taken against Williams, but he believes the increased use of technology not only slows the game down and forces players to second guess themselves and officials, it also denies fans one of the things they like most - physical confrontations between players.
"The VAR will take that little bit of argy-bargy out of the game. Fans always say they like it. It's part and parcel of the game. As a player you like that little bit of physicality," Williams said.
"It (use of the VAR) is going to take out everything, off the ball where you are having a little jab at each other, it's 50-50 ... it's part of being a professional, learning to look after yourself, it's what the fans love."
The defender said it could also stop players from playing their natural game.
"You go to do something and then have to stop and think 'oh no, what's going to happen here', then the next time you don't touch him (the opponent). It feels like it's turning into a bit of a tennis game."
Williams did cop criticism for both incidents, with many surprised he was not censured. Williams insists there was no malice on either occasion.
And, he said, Isaias, the Adelaide skipper, had tried to interfere with him before they clashed and had then tried to make a meal of the incident, something the Spaniard has often been criticised for during his four years in the A-League.
"The first one against City ... the ball just got out of my reach, I tried to win (it). I am not a malicious player, I wouldn't go and try to hurt anyone. I have had my own injuries, I know what its like, and I went and apologised to him after the game."
Malik - who was himself sent off in City's 2-0 win in Adelaide on Saturday night - last week confirmed that Williams had in fact sought him out in the dressing rooms after the game to apologise.
"With the Isaias one ... it got a bit heated with the tackle on me first. Isaias just came across me and tried to elbow me, and I just pulled him down. He is a great player (but) I could pull him down like that or flick him in the shoulder and you would get the same reaction.
"That's disappointing. It's just a bit of overreaction from someone who is 30 odd. He's a great player, but I think that's a downfall for him personally. But that's him."