Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has labelled the tanking debate as garbage, and says he would be shocked if the AFL introduced a draft lottery this year.
The Dockers sit in last spot on the table with a 0-10 record, leading some observers to suggest the club is tanking in a bid to gain the No.1 draft pick at season’s end.
Saturday night’s match against Essendon is already being labelled as a wooden spoon showdown, with the game set to be highly scrutinised for any irregularities.
But Lyon slammed any suggestions his team were tanking, saying it would harm the club for years to come if they purposely tried to lose games.
Lyon used the Melbourne Demons as an example of how a losing culture could ruin clubs.
The Demons were forced to defend accusations they deliberately set out to lose games during the 2009 season.
Although they were never found guilty of tanking, their former coach Dean Bailey and the club’s ex-football operations manager Chris Connolly were suspended as a result of the investigation.
The Demons haven’t played finals football since 2006 despite receiving a glut of high draft picks, and they’re unlikely to make the top-eight this year.
Lyon said it was imperative for clubs to instill a winning mentality – even if it meant sliding down the draft order.
“At the end of the day, culturally it’s really hard to turn it around from (a losing mentality),” Lyon said on Thursday.
“We want to establish our habits for success in adversity.
“You don’t just drift through a year, establish bad habits, and then next year practice great habits. It doesn’t work like that.
“You don’t flirt with that at all, because it’s really difficult (to turn around), and you send confusing and mixed messages to your young players.
“That’s why the tanking debate is all garbage.”
In a bid to remove the perception of tanking, Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert has suggested the AFL introduce a draft lottery for the first four picks.
The concept, which would involve the bottom four clubs, has drawn support from Melbourne coach Paul Roos and former Brisbane champion Michael Voss.
Lyon doesn’t have a strong opinion on it one way or another.
But he thinks it would be unfair if AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan changed the rules in the lead-up to this year’s national draft.
“Clearly the rules about the draft and the order were established and put in place before the season started. I would be shocked if they changed now,” Lyon said.
The Dockers will be boosted by the return of captain David Mundy (calf) against the Bombers, but defender Garrick Ibbotson will miss up to four matches with a fractured wrist.
Essendon midfielder Ryan Crowley is set to play against the Dockers for the first time since being axed by the club at the end of 2015, and Lyon said he had nothing but respect for the renowned tagger.
“I respect him and I like him. But when we cross the line, he’ll be a competitor,” Lyon said.