Main content

It might be two ... or 10: Lyon's plea to rest 'fatigued' Dockers

Lyon's plea to AFL to rest Dockers Ross Lyon says his club will contact the AFL in regards to resting players in round 23
We've earned that opportunity but that sits within the rules of the AFL
Ross Lyon

 Freo's bid to rest players hinges on AFL's integrity rule
• Which fringe Freo players could take on Port Adelaide?

MINOR premier Fremantle will seek approval from the AFL to rest players for next Sunday's trip to Port Adelaide, coach Ross Lyon says.   

The Dockers secured the minor premiership with one round remaining on Sunday after a 54-point win over Melbourne at Domain Stadium.

Next week's Fremantle-Port Adelaide clash will have no bearing on the top eight with the ninth-placed Power unable to move any higher on the ladder. 

The AFL introduced a rule two years ago to prevent clubs from mass changes after the Dockers made 11 changes in the final round of the 2013 season in a calculated risk when it was confirmed they would finish no lower than fourth. 

• Finals crystal ball: Your side's week one match-up, plus our draft predictions

"We've earned that opportunity but that sits within the rules of the AFL," Lyon said post-match. 

"We are fatigued. There does need to be management of our players. Certainly there's no impact on any other teams in the competition. 

"It doesn't impact Port and we can't improve or lessen our position. So clearly it's an opportunity.   

"We'll formally contact the AFL tomorrow." 

• WATCH: Ross Lyon's full postmatch media conference

The AFL Commission rewrote Rule 29 in October 18, 2013 to tighten the integrity rules governing the AFL competition.

There is a provision in the rule that allows for "management of player fatigue or injuries".

The Dockers already have key players missing with Nat Fyfe (leg) and Hayden Ballantyne (pec) unavailable until at least the first week of the finals.

Michael Walters was a late withdrawal on Sunday due to calf soreness, Matthew Pavlich was subbed out halfway through the third term in his first game back following Achilles soreness and Cam Sutcliffe dislocated his shoulder in the last quarter but it was popped back into place on the bench shortly afterwards.

Eight Dockers have played every game this year including veterans Aaron Sandilands and David Mundy. Luke McPharlin has played 18 matches this year, which is the most he's played since he played 21 of 22 in 2012 before missing the finals series with a hamstring injury.

 

Lyon said he wouldn't speculate on which players he was considering resting if the Dockers are allowed to.

"In the cold light of day tomorrow we'll assess that with all the relevant information," Lyon said.

"We'll look at form and our medical team will put through all the injuries. Because no team gets to this stage of the year where people aren't carrying things. 

"But we also respect we need to hit the finals in good form and be competing. We'll try to strike that balance.

"I've got no idea what number. It might be one. It might be two. It might be 10, I've got no idea."
 

Lyon also said the only relevant information he had on the benefits of resting players in round 23 was the result of the first qualifying final against Geelong in 2013.

A well-rested Fremantle defeated second-placed Geelong at Simonds Stadium to set up a home preliminary final.

"Probably the only data was that win at Geelong," Lyon said.

"We ran it out. We were fresh, although we started slowly. They're all the risks."

• Click here for full match coverage and stats

Fremantle defender Lee Spurr was one of the players rested in 2013 and he told AFL.com.au on Sunday that he would be happy to skip next week if required, although he also said most players would not want to risk losing their spot.

"From a players perspective you just want to play and keep building," Spurr said.

"You don't want to flirt with your form. No player wants to give up a game. You don't want to give someone an opportunity to take your spot."

Another repercussion of potential mass changes for the Dockers would be the impact on their WAFL-aligned club Peel Thunder.

Peel is playing in the club's first ever final next week but the side could be gutted if Fremantle's fringe players get called up to the senior team.

• Around the state leagues: Docker reserves in limbo ahead of WAFL final  

"We're aware of that," Lyon said.

"That would clearly impact them as well. They're an important stakeholder of ours. It's been a really productive alignment. It's been beneficial for both parties. 

"We see ourselves as one. But clearly the AFL would override at this stage. But we would certainly be respectful of that."

• Nine things we learned from round 22