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AFL uncertain whether to wave off bye

Football

The AFL is yet to make a call on whether the pre-finals bye will become a permanent part of the fixture or not.

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The league introduced an end-of-season bye this year, wanting to stop the trend of finals-bound clubs resting players en masse in the final round of the regular season.

Feedback has mostly been negative, with a poll last month showing all 18 coaches were against the concept.

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has since publicly changed his tune, noting injured players Tom Liberatore, Easton Wood and Jack Macrae would benefit from the extra week off.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan admitted it’s been a divisive issue.

“There’s a fair bit of upside … dealing with the integrity issue (of players being rested in the final round),” McLachlan told Fox Footy, also listing the extra focus on a women’s exhibition match and the EJ Whitten Legends game.

“The downside is the weekend without football … a lack of momentum. We won’t know (about that) until we play this weekend.

“I don’t know (if it will continue). We’ll have a look at it in the back half of September and first week or so of October in the cold light of day.”

Luke Hodge felt the past week had been positive for the sport.

But the Hawthorn skipper was worried about two preliminary finalists being inadvertently punished.

“What’s going to happen in two weeks time? (Two sides will have played) one game in 28 days going into a prelim final,” Hodge told the Seven Network.

“And arguably, in my experience, that’s the hardest game to win. You’re disadvantaging the team that should be rewarded for playing the best footy and winning the most games over the year.”

-AAP

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