Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley has called on the AFL to shorten the NAB Challenge in the wake of Thursday night’s injury-plagued clash with Richmond.
The Tigers lost four players to injuries in the match, just two weeks out from the season-opener against Carlton at the MCG.
And with no official title now riding on the round-robin competition which involves all 18 clubs playing three matches, Hinkley believes too many commitments are being placed on the clubs.
“Personally I believe three (games) is too many,” he told SEN Radio.
“You don’t need three to get ready. Most teams throughout the competition have used one of those games to field a really inexperienced side.”
Hinkley said the Power only based their pre-season around two proper fixtures, with the importance of intra-club matches now taking even more prominence.
“You can do plenty of combative stuff, you can do plenty of structural stuff. The thing you can’t do is go game style against game style,” he said.
“But if you’ve got it wrong by the end of February or March, it’s probably not fixable.”
Hinkley also discussed the idea of scrapping the pre-season matches altogether, allowing for a more balanced competition where each team would play eight rivals twice, rather than five.
In turn, he also believes it would lead to a more competitive opening month of football where he doesn’t believe coaches would be instructing players to take it easy to avoid injuries.
“I reckon it would be flat out, anything could happen,” he said.
“There could be a few surprises but I don’t think the competition would be drastically affected by it.”