AFL 2021: Melbourne Demons ‘not concerned one bit’ about change to finals schedule

Brad ElboroughNCA NewsWire
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When Melbourne runs onto Optus Stadium to play in the 2021 AFL Grand Final, it will have played just one game since its qualifying final win over the Brisbane Lions at the Adelaide Oval four weeks earlier.

It’s still to be determined whether Port Adelaide will face the same challenge, being the management of so much downtime. Perhaps it will end up an advantage for the Western Bulldogs having to have played an extra game, on the semi-final weekend.

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But Demons coach Simon Goodwin isn’t concerned.

“I’m not concerned one bit,” he said after Friday night’s 83-point drubbing of Geelong in the preliminary final.

“That’s what training is for; that’s what your preparation is for.

“Our players have had great continuity, and they’ve got a great level of fitness amongst them as a player group.

“We’ll train hard over the next eight to 10 days in terms of our preparation. That won’t hinder us at all. We’ve got our whole playing list here, we’ll be able to get some match simulation into our playing group, and prepare ourselves as best as we can.”

The Demons are now out of quarantine, allowing them to walk free around Perth.

They have a match simulation planned for next weekend, on either Friday or Saturday.

Details of the lead up to the grand final on September 25 are still to be released by the AFL, but Melbourne is expected to mark the occasion as best they can and engage with footy fans in Perth.

They had big support on Friday night among the 58,599 people who attended the game. It was clearly a Demons crowd.

“(The support in Perth has) been evident all week,” Goodwin said.

“We want that to continue. We have three Perth lads who bring excitement to the group (Luke Jackson, Trent Rivers and Neville Jetta).

“I am sure there will be a level of engagement with supporters in Perth.

“We’ll find the right times to build that up; make sure everyone get access and the players feel it is a special occasion.”

The fitness of Steven May will be a talking point this week, after he was subbed out of Friday night’s game in the third quarter because of a tight hamstring.

The Demons will manage him over the next couple of weeks, but they expect him to be available to play in the grand final.

The emotional story for Melbourne in the lead up to the decider will be that of former captain Nathan Jones, who has returned home for the birth of his twins and will miss grand final day.

After 302 games, it looked unlikely he’d have gotten a chance to play on the biggest stage even if he’d stayed with the group.

Originally published as AFL 2021: Melbourne Demons ‘not concerned one bit’ about change to finals schedule

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