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Robbie Gray latest star to pull AFLX pin

Football

Port Adelaide dynamo Robbie Gray is the latest star to pull out of the AFLX pre-season carnival after reporting knee soreness.

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Gray, after also withdrawing from last year’s competition, has been replaced by teammate Tom Rockliff in Patrick Dangerfield’s Bolts team.

Hawthorn’s Chad Wingard (calf) and Melbourne’s Steven May (hamstring) have withdrawn from the Deadly team captained by Eddie Betts.

AFL clubs are again taking no risks with their players after a spate of withdrawals during last year’s inaugural tournament.

The concept has been revamped this year after the debut had attracted only lukewarm interest.

Four all-star teams, captained by Dangerfield, Betts, Nat Fyfe and Jack Riewoldt, will compete on February 22 at Marvel Stadium.

A maximum of four players from each AFL team can be selected across the tournament.

No injuries were reported during last year’s three-day exhibition, partly due to its low-intensity nature.

Every AFL club was required to field an AFLX team but there was minimal commitment across the board.

West Coast named 11 debutants, Adelaide ruled out almost their entire 2017 grand final side and Fyfe and Gray were among last-minute scratchings.

The calibre of players named for this year’s tournament is undoubtedly higher but AFL clubs nonetheless remain wary of the concept, with Richmond superstar Dustin Martin among the big-name players ruled unavailable.

The hit-and-giggle competition this year features a designated “game changer” with the power to earn double points for the final five minutes of each game.

Flyers captain Fyfe confirmed players would keep intensity to a minimum.

“AFLX will likely be a non-contact style of play,” Fyfe said.

“There is more risk of me getting injured in regular pre-season team training than there is in AFLX.”

– AAP

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