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AFL players agog at pre-finals bye return

AAP logoAAP 24/10/2016

AFL players have given the pre-finals bye the thumps down - and they're disappointed by its slated return for 2017.

The AFL Players' Association says 80 per cent of players prefer two in-season byes, to help combat the effects of burn-out.

"Should this (pre-finals bye) eventuate, it would be an extremely unsatisfactory outcome for the players, who have stressed the importance of these rest periods given the demands of the modern game," AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh said in a statement on Monday.

Marsh has accused the league of putting commercial interests ahead of player welfare, with record viewing figures throughout this year's finals convincing the AFL to retain the concept.

"The greater build-up for fans of all sides competing in the finals strongly contributed to a brilliant month for the game across September, with the best players being able to be as fit and well-prepared as possible for the most important games of the season," AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said last week .

The premiership-winning Western Bulldogs benefited from the break, limping into seventh at the end of the regular season before regrouping to win the flag.

The Bulldogs were able to recall five players for their elimination final against West Coast in week one of the playoffs.

In contrast, the extra week's break hurt the two qualifying final winners - Greater Western Sydney and Geelong - who played just two matches in four weeks leading up to their preliminary finals, which both sides lost.

"If there's going to be two byes, why not have it during the season so then when everything's coming into the finals, everything just flows on," new Melbourne recruit Jordan Lewis said.

The 2017 AFL draw is expected to be released this week.

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