Joe Canning says he had never seen a puckout strategy like Waterford's which has all but two of their outfield players vacate the area inside their own 45m line.
"It's funny..." said Canning, analysing Waterford's defeat to Kilkenny on RTÉ's Allianz League Sunday.
"Two guys inside their own 45 - Tadhg de Burca and Mark Fitzgerald. All the [Kilkenny] full-forward line, all the [Waterford] full-back line were gone outside the 45. I've never seen that before. They went short, worked it through.
"[Waterford goalkeeper Billy Nolan] puts his two hands up. I don't know if it's a signal or what. Waiting it seems to let the players go all the way up the field.
"Two guys out on the 45, one Kilkenny player. Where is the other Kilkenny corner forward? Long ball in. It doesn't work out...
"The interesting thing for me is that when they go long here, who is the player that's actually nearly on the end of it? It's Jack Fagan, the wing-back, number five. He was actually in the square waiting for that ball."
The Twitter account GAA Game Sense Coaching highlighted Waterford's use of the puckout during their defeat to Tipperary in round four of the Allianz Hurling League.
Interesting to look at the puck out set ups for Tipp & Waterford last weekend.
Both trying to utilise space in different ways.
Very creative option from Waterford in clearing out to the 45. #GAA pic.twitter.com/C2He2AVGqg
— GAAGameSenseCoaching (@GaaSense) March 14, 2023
Canning theorised that clearing out the 45 could be a ploy by Waterford manager Davy Fitzgerald to force the opposition's attacking threats away from the danger area.
"I remember playing against Fitz's teams down through the years," said Canning.
"You might be wing-forward and their half-back just goes up the field, and you have to go chasing. You're almost defending as much as attacking.
"Maybe that's a way of him trying to get say Eoin Cody for Kilkenny going back up the field where they don't want to be, away from the goals. That could be his thinking - who knows?
"I've heard that Wexford used to have 17 different puckout variations [when Davy Fitzgerald was manager]. Do Waterford have that now with him? I'm not too sure. It's interesting. It makes people think. It's only good."
Following Sunday's two-point defeat to Kilkenny, Fitzgerald - in his second stint as Deise manager - said this Waterford team is "110 per cent" behind him.
Waterford 'over the next two years, won't be far away'
"You've guys out there that are fighting to make the 26, and make the first 15. There's another eight guys who feel they should be on the first 15 that are missing today," Fitzgerald told RTÉ Radio One's Sunday Sport.
"The one thing I'm delighted about today is we might have conceded four [goals] last week [against Tipperary] - one or two of them maybe shouldn't have been conceded, maybe should have been a free out for definitely one of them - but today I don't think we gave up many goal chances which was important.
"We're on the road. It's a journey. I'm only four months at the job. We have different things to do, and I'm certainly going to stay with that process no matter what any pundits or anyone thinks outside, I don't care. We have a process. Am I going to change the whole of Waterford hurling in three or four months? I'm not.
"But have I got these guys playing with me? They are playing for me, 110 per cent. You could see that today. Championship, we'll see what happens. We'll certainly be underdogs going into it by a long shot. They are a really good bunch to work and apply themselves. I think they're very unlucky not to get that result today. My whole thing was to make sure I've got a panel of 26, that I know where I'm going come championship.
"I'm happy enough where we are. Are we a bit off the main guys? We probably are a small bit. The likes of Cork and Limerick are absolutely flying it, and they'll surely be right up there for All-Irelands. This bunch, over the next two years, I'm telling you, they won't be far away."