Fremantle coach Ross Lyon says the AFL must consider scrapping the pre-finals bye after Sydney’s thumping preliminary final win over Geelong.
The week off before the playoffs – in addition to another break as reward for winning their qualifying final – meant the Cats had played only one game in the 27 days leading into Friday’s 37-point loss at the MCG.
Geelong looked far from switched on in the game’s early stages, giving up eight unanswered goals and Lyon says it’s clear the extra time off hurt their performance.
“Once you break that cycle, it’s impossible to replicate an AFL senior game over that period of time,” he told Fox Footy on Saturday.
“It’s indisputable what you saw at the start of the game. It’s going to be a real issue. I think they have to look at the formula.
“You’ve got to be rewarded for winning the most games (and finishing) top-four. That’s been fundamental to the competition. But that’s now dissipated that advantage.
“It’s now a potential negative if you have the week off (and) win your first final.”
Lyon is the latest AFL figure to weigh in against the bye, with Hawthorn skipper Luke Hodge also expressing concerns.
But Geelong coach Brad Scott said their opinion was unchanged – that they would rather have had it.
“We clearly need to analyse how we approached it,” he said after Friday night’s game.
“We were confident going in … we thought we gave ourselves every chance.
“It was completely in our control and we just didn’t deliver.”
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.
A poll last month showed all 18 coaches were against the concept, although Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has since welcomed the opportunity to help several players recover from injuries.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has said the league will wait until after the finals to weigh up whether the bye should continue.