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Say bye-bye to the pre-finals bye, says Beveridge

Football

Luke Beveridge is no fan of the bye to come after round 23, fearing it could halt any momentum his side carries into the AFL finals series.

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In a break from tradition, the top eight will spend the first week of September preparing for finals rather than playing them in 2016.

The new fixture tweak comes a year after North Melbourne and Fremantle mass-rested players in preparation for their finals.

Both sides were assured of their finishing position heading into the last round, taking the edge off the contests.

The AFL believes giving the entire top eight will end the practice, but the Western Bulldogs coach feels it’s reactionary.

“I don’t think the bye is necessary,” he said.

“I think it’s another impulsive knee-jerk reaction to something that may not happen every year.”

The Bulldogs are one of the teams most likely to benefit from the move in 2016, given they have been handed a final-round visit to Perth to play Fremantle.

Top-four clubs that win their qualifying final have two weekends off in three weeks under the new system.

“I know there’s been some opinions around the teams that may finish top four,” Beveridge said.

“For that drop off in flow in the season, I’d rather have the season flow into the finals.”

Both last year and again this week, Beveridge said he was sceptical of the mass-rest approach but he respected clubs that took the gamble with their form.

“You take a risk with that. It might not always work out the way it did for the Roos last year,” he said.

“Credit to them, they managed it really really well.

“I’d be reticent to do it. It’s too risky. Especially with a young team.

“But you never know. You might have six to eight really sore bodies that could do with a rest.”

North Melbourne lost to Richmond in round 23 but won through to a preliminary final with the approach last year, beating the Tigers in an elimination final and Sydney the following week in their semi-final meeting.

-AAP

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