'Not possible': Brisbane captain shuts down controversial AFL plan

·4-min read
Pictured here, Brisbane Lions captain Dayne Zorko doesn't like the idea of five-day turnarounds.
Dayne Zorko has weighed in on a major proposal around the resumption of the AFL season. Pic: Getty

One of the AFL’s biggest names has poured cold water on a controversial proposal around the resumption of the season.

Facing a stacked AFL schedule after the coronavirus shutdown, Brisbane Lions captain Dayne Zorko has warned five day turnarounds won't be sustainable for players.

With the competition suspended until at least May and 17 games still left for each team to negotiate, players are set to hit the ground running when the AFL resumes.

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The AFL are reportedly considering relaunching the season on July 24, possibly playing games daily over the first two weeks to help fill a TV slot that was made available by the Tokyo Olympics' postponement.

Shorter quarters and extended benches have been suggested by the likes of Lions coach Chris Fagan as ways to navigate the busy schedule with teams facing four to five-day turnarounds.

But Zorko warned it was "not possible" for players to cope if asked to have a minimum five day break between games throughout the season.

"I think four (day turnaround) would be extremely tight. I know five day (breaks), we have had a couple of those in the past few years and is certainly doable," he said on Wednesday.

"But whether you can do that consistently, I don't think that is possible.

"You could possibly squeeze out a four day break then a seven day break, but to be backing four or five days in a row is pushing the body to the limits and certainly would be stretching the lists."

However, Zorko believed players would be physically prepared to play well into the year to complete the season with reports the grand final may be staged as late as New Year's Eve.

"That (NYE grand final) would be halfway through our pre season (normally). It will throw a spanner in the works (for 2021 preparations)," he said.

"But if that is what it takes then most players would be comfortable with that.

"We will be ready to play footy for as long as we need to.

"(And) it would be pretty exciting for the teams that play in it (grand final) I reckon, bring in the New Year as champions."

One other proposal put forward amid the coronavirus-enforced shutdown is to raise the minimum age limit of the AFL draft.

AFL urged to resist calls to raise minimum draft age

Geelong list manager Stephen Wells is in favour of leaving the minimum draft age at 18 years, urging the AFL to resist fresh calls from key figures in the game to raise it.

But the respected talent judge concedes there is no clear consensus on the matter among football staff at the Cats, let alone around the competition.

Premiership coaches Damien Hardwick and Luke Beveridge have this week both flagged lifting the draft age, citing benefits for both young players and AFL clubs.

AFL rules stipulate players must be at least 18 on December 31 in the year they are drafted to be eligible for selection by clubs.

"My opinion is that 18 works really well," Wells told SEN on Wednesday.

Geelong list manager Stephen Wells wants the AFL to leave the minimum draft age alone. Pic: Getty
Geelong list manager Stephen Wells wants the AFL to leave the minimum draft age alone. Pic: Getty

"There's a system in place, the AFL's set it up very well, that any player that didn't want to nominate for the draft doesn't have to.

"If an 18-year-old thought that he wanted to concentrate on his schooling and decided with his family that he didn't want to nominate for 12 months, he doesn't have to.

"Also, clubs don't have to pick 18-year-olds, so there's two safety measures there already for the 18-year-olds.

"I also think some of the most exciting players to watch in the competition, albeit that they are young, are the 18-year-olds that come in and make a difference to a club right from the start."

All AFL feeder leagues, including state-based and underage competitions, are on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year's under-18 national carnival could be cancelled, which would leave some players unable to push their cases to be drafted in November.

with Yahoo Sport staff

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