AN UNDERMANNED West Coast is set to "borrow" players from Gold Coast in order to play a scratch match on Saturday between footballers who miss senior selection.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson told reporters on Friday his team could have as few as 12 players available, compared to 22 on the Suns' side, so he expected an arrangement would be made.
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Gold Coast has a League-high 51 players on its list, owing to AFL concessions designed to accelerate its development.
Jarrod Cameron (pubic bone), Mark Hutchings (knee), Mitch O'Neill (back) and Daniel Venables (concussion) are among the unavailable West Coast players.
This unusual situation has arisen because AFL-listed footballers are banned from competing in second-tier leagues, to limit the chance of COVID-19 infection.
Six clubs – Essendon, North Melbourne, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn and Geelong – won't be playing a scratch match this week for various reasons.
"We'll have a scratch match with the younger fellas tomorrow," Simpson said.
"I think we'll have to borrow a few of the Gold Coast boys, so I don't know how that's going to go, because they need to play to win, they need to compete.
"(West Coast's WAFL coach) Adrian Hickmott is going to run that one for me with Gold Coast."
Clubs are able to mutually agree to the match conditions, including the number of players on each team and quarter duration.
Simpson was unsure of those particulars when he spoke to the media but thought the most likely option would be a game of 16- or 17-a-side.
"I don't even know what they're going to wear. I assume (the Gold Coast players) don't want to wear West Coast uniforms, so they might just have bibs on – I don't know," he said.
"We'll play. They want to play, they want to compete, they want to prove themselves, they want to put their hand up to be available through form, so we'll give them that opportunity."
The practice match is due to be played at Metricon Stadium on Saturday morning, hours before the Eagles and Suns compete at the same venue for premiership points.
West Coast made just one selection change, with second-year tall Oscar Allen replacing ruckman Tom Hickey.
Allen will serve as Nic Naitanui's ruck deputy but play mostly as a forward, with the Eagles aware there is less need for two genuine ruckmen with the shortened quarters, as well as there being forecast rain.
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Simpson said there was genuine competition to be Naitanui's understudy, with Hickey, Nathan Vardy and Bailey Williams all pushing for Allen's spot.
However, he was unsure how many minutes Naitanui, the 2012 All-Australian ruckman, would play each quarter.
"(Naitanui)'s had a good block of pre-season and hasn't missed a training session, really, but I still think Nic will be a slow burn," Simpson said.
"I don't think he's going to come and try and set the world on fire the first five minutes of the game. We're really keen to get a good season out of him and we'll manage his minutes.
"He'll be unders for the first part of the season, just to see where he's at, and we'd love to call upon him if the game's on the line and we need him to do something special.
"We don't want to burn him out too early but we'll work through that the next few weeks."