North Melbourne resting up to 10 players for this weekend’s clash with Richmond might not be the best look, but the AFL says it understands the Kangaroos’ decision.
In a move which has angered fans, commentators and even rival clubs, North are proposing to make a swathe of changes to their line-up for the last-round fixture against the Tigers.
The move could have ramifications on the first weekend of the finals campaign, and has prompted Adelaide to seek clarity from the AFL on clubs’ obligations.
AFL football operations manager Mark Evans says while the decision certainly doesn’t sit well with some, he says the Kangaroos are entitled to make the call.
“We understand the situation they’re in of two six-day breaks and the need to make sure they’re right for their finals match,” Evans said.
“While we understand some people don’t like the look of it, it has cleared our integrity rules.
“If you look at sides at this time of the year, some of them are in development mode; some have already put games into young players; some players have been rested to this point in time.
“While we understand that people don’t like the look of it, we certainly understand that North Melbourne, Fremantle and others are preparing for the best possible finals series.
“It won’t impact their ladder position and we’re confident that it’s not a matter for the integrity department.”
Evans said clubs had at least been honest with their intentions, and that might help fans understand – if not accept – the decision.
He also dismissed the suggestion a week’s break between the completion of the regular season and the start of the finals series would make the problem disappear.
“That creates other issues around momentum and you still get the possibility that you get to the final round and some teams will not be able to change position so I think we’ll still have the same problem,” he said.