AFL chief Gillon McLachlan says the pre-season competition has plenty to offer fans despite calls for it to be made more competitive.
Collingwood boss Eddie McGuire has called for the winner of the NAB Challenge to be awarded a berth in the finals, describing the current format as “glorified practice matches”.
McLachlan says he’s confident no change is needed, pointing to strong crowds at pre-season games last year as proof fans were keen to get a first glimpse of new recruits.
“It’s just as exciting but for different reasons,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“Every supporter at this time is undefeated. They get to look at their new players, new structures, their new coaching set-up and how they’re going to go. It’s a different proposition.”
McGuire earlier stated that nobody cared about the current NAB Challenge format, and clubs were mostly concerned with preserving their lists.
“The start of the season doesn’t have much zing,” McGuire said.
“It is just hit and giggle. You just want to get through without injuries.”
The pre-season competition, which begins on February 18, will feature 27 matches played at 21 venues across the country.
McLachlan said he was confident the Essendon supplements saga would not cast a shadow over the pre-season despite its impact on several teams.
“There are challenges every year,” he said.
“I think people are able to deal with that Essendon issue and compartmentalise it. There’s a lot of excitement out there.”