AFL boss Gillon McLachlan is anticipating a fortnight of anticipation and celebration rather than procrastination during the pre-finals bye.
The league has scheduled a break between the home-and-away season and the finals for the first time in 2016 as a response to North Melbourne’s round 23 mass-rest last season.
Some coaches and players have been critical of the change, with Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson calling it the season’s biggest wild card.
McLachlan admits there is “certainly a risk” of a lack of momentum into the finals but wants people to judge the experiment at season’s end.
“I think people understand why we made the call after last year,” he told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
“I accept the potential is a loss of momentum.
“The alternate view is that we have the All-Australian (announcement and) we get a greater level of respect and focus on that.
“(We have) the Rising Star, the women’s game and the (E.J. Whitten) legends game.
“We also get the chance to celebrate all eight teams making the finals … if we go back last year, the Bulldogs were an extraordinary story to make the eight and that was gone and done in five days.”
“Right now there’s some negativity but we should wait and have a look.”
McLachlan admitted the break wasn’t his preferred solution to the perceived integrity issue.
“We concluded that we couldn’t find a way legally to stop what had occurred,” he said.
There’s likely to be a 10-day break without games, with the league endeavouring to open the finals with a Thursday night match in Adelaide, Sydney or Perth.
“Our preferred timings would be Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday afternoon-twilight and Saturday night,” he said.
McLachlan also effectively ruled out a final at Geelong’s Simonds Stadium.
“I don’t think so … there’s a reduced capacity there,” he said.
“If we have only one Melbourne final (on a weekend) we are contractually obliged to play it at the MCG.”