The West

WAFL seconds or sidelines
WAFL seconds or sidelines

WAFL clubs will meet on Monday to decide whether to allow West Coast and Fremantle players to compete in the competition's reserves finals so they can maintain match fitness and form during the AFL finals.

With the WAFL top four decided, the Dockers and Eagles who play for Peel, Perth, West Perth and Subiaco will play their last home-and-away games today. South Fremantle finished their season last week.

That will leave a host of AFL players without teams in which to play as they attempt to break back into the elite level's finals.

The WAFL allows AFL players to play reserves at a different club when their team has a bye during the home-and-away season.

The reserves teams then have an extra player on the bench, so no one gets dropped.

Quinten Lynch, Nick Lower, Ashton Hams, Jack Anthony, Ashley Smith, Jesse Crichton, Josh Mellington and Scott Lycett were overlooked by their AFL teams this weekend and their WAFL clubs won't play in the finals, which start next week.

"It could present some challenges for us but we would look at each individual case on its merits," WAFL football operations and pathways manager Cameron Knapton said.

"If they're genuine chances to play AFL footy we'd try to find homes for them if their WAFL club is out. We'll continue to communicate with AFL clubs about where they see those players and how they may want us to manage them. The deeper you go into finals, the harder it is potentially to manage.

The first week we've got two finals that we could spread them amongst but week two it'd be back to two teams."

The WAFL's rules for AFL players are different to other State leagues.

Collingwood didn't qualify for VFL finals, which start this weekend, leaving out-of-form forward Chris Dawes with nowhere to play.

Hawthorn's affiliate, Box Hill, have an elimination final today, so the Hawks may have nowhere for their emergency players from last night - Max Bailey, Xavier Ellis and Shane Savage - to play when AFL finals start.

North Melbourne and Geelong's VFL teams have a double chance.

Adelaide's players have two more weeks of SANFL football before finals. Sydney's NEAFL team is playing Queanbeyan in a second semifinal today in a bid to qualify for the September 16 grand final.

Knapton said having several WAFL clubs to outsource their players during the AFL finals would give Fremantle and West Coast an advantage.

"It's a major benefit for them," Knapton said. "Normally if your reserves team is out you've got nowhere for your blokes to play."

Fremantle and West Coast are fighting to have their own teams in the WAFL.

Knapton said the ongoing debate shouldn't have any impact on the request for AFL players to play reserves finals.

"You would hope not. There's an agreement in place that allows it to happen for this year," Knapton said. "From my perspective, we won't get tangled up on what might happen in the future. It's about dealing with what's now."

The West Australian

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