THE EXTENDED wait for a verdict from the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal is behind some Essendon players reconsidering their decision to sit out the NAB Challenge.
Just over a month ago, the club had planned for all 25 of the players from its 2012 list to be unavailable for the pre-season series to protect the identities of the 17 or 18 believed to have been issued infraction notices.
However, ahead of its first game in the NAB Challenge, four young players – Jackson Merrett, Elliott Kavanagh, Nick O'Brien and Lauchlan Dalgleish – requested they take part in the pre-season competition to best prepare for the home and away season.
The club's coaches and leadership group gave the fourth-year players (who were in the first year of their careers in 2012 during the club's contentious supplements program) the green light to play.
Essendon football operations boss Rob Kerr said the club had hoped the Tribunal would have revealed its verdict before the end of the NAB Challenge, and the long wait had seen players reassess their plans ahead of the home and away season.
"As has been the case from the start of the NAB Challenge series, if a player indicated to the coaches and leadership group that they wanted to play for their own individual preparation, the club would not stand in their way," Kerr said in a statement to AFL.com.au.
"We had a reasonable expectation that the Tribunal decision would be handed down at some point during the NAB Challenge series.
"Unfortunately, this process took longer than expected and as a result all three pre-season games were impacted, and this delay led to some players reviewing the merits of not playing at all during the NAB Challenge."
Baguley became the sixth 2012-listed player still at the club to be named for the NAB Challenge when he was selected on Wednesday in the squad to face Melbourne on Friday.
The AFL Players' Association supported Baguley's decision to play, reiterating its view that it was always an individual choice to play or not in the NAB Challenge.
AFLPA boss Paul Marsh has previously said when the original decision was made for all 2012-listed players to not feature in the pre-season competition, "the playing group, and the leadership group in particular, were keen to ensure that no player suffered a disadvantage by choosing to sit out of the NAB Challenge".
After selecting 13 top-up players for its first game of the NAB Challenge, Essendon named just five in its 27-man squad to play the Demons.