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2016 AFL fixture reveals pre-finals bye round to stop mass resting of players

The AFL has introduced a bye week before the finals so that those clubs playing in September can have the best possible lead-in and preparation for the most important matches of our season.

Gillon McLachla

The AFL has scheduled a second bye at the conclusion of round 23 in its 2016 fixture in an attempt to stop clubs resting players ahead of the finals.

The issue has been a prevalent one in recent AFL seasons as teams have chosen to rest large quantities of their star players in the home and away season's final round to keep them fresh for a finals campaign.

But the AFL is hoping to eradicate that problem, with finals participants now to enjoy a week off before the first week of the finals.

"The AFL has introduced a bye week before the finals so that those clubs playing in September can have the best possible lead-in and preparation for the most important matches of our season," AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said in a statement.

The grand final will again be held in October, on Saturday October 1, while the first replay of the last year's decider between Hawthorn and West Coast will take place in round two at the MCG.
McLachlan said the fixture list also included more marquee timeslots on Thursday and Friday nights for teams who pushed up the ladder last season.

"In 2015, a number of clubs in North Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs and Richmond, that have not featured strongly in our marquee match slots in recent years, all played outstanding football through the premiership season and pushed strongly up the ladder," he said.
"Their efforts have been recognised, along with the other form sides of the competition, with increased exposure in our schedule for Friday night matches and other major timeslots."
There will be five matches played on Thursday nights - the season opener at the MCG and four matches in rounds 14 to 17.

The four mid-season Thursday night matches will all be played outside of Victoria, with Adelaide hosting two and one each for Perth and Sydney.
"Leading non-Victorian sides in Port Adelaide, the Adelaide Crows, West Coast and the Sydney Swans will all host one Thursday night match each, while Fremantle will be featured in two key Friday night matches through this period at [Subiaco Oval] and the MCG respectively," McLachlan said.

The AFL also announced a first-ever Friday night match to be played in Tasmania, between North Melbourne and Richmond at Bellerive Oval, on June 3 in round 11.

The AFL has introduced a bye week before the finals so that those clubs playing in September can have the best possible lead-in and preparation for the most important matches of our season.

Gillon McLachla


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