Fremantle coach Ross Lyon insists he’s prepared to cop the blame if his controversial plan to bulk rest players this weekend backfires.
The Dockers are set to rest about 11 of their stars for Saturday’s clash with the Power at Adelaide Oval.
Fremantle, who are guaranteed to finish first even if they lose, hope the move will leave the bulk of their team fresh for the start of the finals.
Lyon pulled off a similar move in the final round of the 2013 campaign.
On that occasion Lyon rested 11 of his players, with the Fremantle ‘B’ team copping a 71-point hammering at the hands of the 16th-placed Saints.
A week later, Fremantle’s rested stars returned to help propel the team to a shock qualifying final win over Geelong at Simonds Stadium.
Some fans have expressed outrage over Lyon’s bid to repeat the resting manoeuvre.
But Lyon believes the plan will boost his side’s flag hopes.
“There’s a lot of opinions,” Lyon said.
“But at the end of the day it’s all care and no responsibility, so ultimately the buck will stop with me. And I’m happy to wear any criticisms or bouquets that come.”
Matthew Pavlich, Luke McPharlin, Aaron Sandilands, Stephen Hill, David Mundy, Lachie Neale, Danyle Pearce, Michael Barlow, Chris Mayne, Cameron Sutcliffe, and Garrick Ibbotson appear the most likely to be given the week off.
Nat Fyfe (leg), Hayden Ballantyne (pectoral) and Michael Walters (calf) have already been ruled out through injury, meaning up to 14 of Fremantle’s best 22 could be missing.
The AFL have granted Fremantle permission to go ahead with their plan.
Lyon admits there are pros and cons with bulk resting players.
On the one hand, it will give them a well-needed rest ahead of the finals.
But on the other hand, it could disrupt the team’s form.
“It’s not an exact science. There’s no guarantees,” Lyon told Perth radio station 6PR.
The one big loser over the whole affair will be Fremantle’s WAFL affiliate – Peel Thunder.
The Thunder will play a qualifying final against West Perth on Sunday.
It will be the Thunder’s first finals appearance since their inception in 1997, but most of their best players will be called up to fill the gaps for Fremantle’s match with Port.
Lyon said it was a situation where the greater good outweighed Peel’s needs.
“At the end of the day we exist to win AFL premierships, more so than WAFL,” Lyon said.
“Sometimes it is what it is.”