Geelong skipper Joel Selwood believes the post-season AFL bye could be a game-changer, especially for the four clubs contesting elimination finals.
Concerned with the trend of sides resting players en masse in the final round, the league this year introduced a week off between the regular season and finals.
A recent poll showed all 18 coaches were against the idea, although Western Bulldogs mentor Luke Beveridge has publicly changed his tune.
The Bulldogs hope an extra week will help stand-in skipper Easton Wood, Tom Liberatore and Jack Macrae return from injuries against West Coast.
“The week off gives us something new to look at … it gives the guys from fifth to eighth a chance to freshen up and get going again,” Selwood told AAP.
“It’s not so much who can last the longest and hit the hardest.
“It’s a real open ball game.”
The Cats face Hawthorn in a qualifying final at the MCG on Friday, September 9.
The winner will earn another week off by advancing to a preliminary final at the same venue.
It means they will have played just one game in the space of three weeks.
“They put the bye in so you can’t really do much about it,” Hawks skipper Luke Hodge said on Tuesday, making the bye sound more like an annoyance than time off.
“You take it like you would in the middle of the season.
“Obviously it gives blokes a chance to have a little bit of a rest physically, but mentally you’re still trying to work on certain things that are going to help you in next week’s game.”
Selwood, speaking after his side trounced Melbourne by 111 points in the final round of the season, was thrilled to be back in the finals.
The 2015 season was the first time the Cats missed the top eight since 2006.
“It feels good. We sat back and watched them last year and for a lot of us it was the first time,” Selwood said.
“And if not, the first time for a long time.”