Swan Districts have denied that the decision to drop four regular players for today's match against top team East Perth was designed to relieve salary cap pressure.
State players Matt Riggio and Blaine Boekhorst, centreman Adam Faulkner and forward Matt Jukes were omitted while veterans Tallan Ames and Tim Geappen could not be considered to take on the Royals at Hands Oval in Bunbury.
Ames sustained a concussion when he was dumped in a tackle against West Perth last week and Geappen was suspended for rough conduct against Falcons defender Dan Hunt.
Swans will save at least $3000 in match payments by not playing the group.
But Swans president Peter Hodyl said the omissions were not related to the club's salary cap and that coach Greg Harding was responding to the poor effort against the Falcons and wanted to scrutinise several young players before the finals.
"Greg has his plan and we have done a lot with our youngsters this year," Hodyl said.
"Everything is hunky dory as far as the salary cap goes but after the performance last week Greg was not happy with the commitment of some players."
_The West Australian _ reported in June that a WA Football Commission email leak, which distributed details of this season's player payments to all WAFL clubs, revealed that one club was on track to exceed the annual $280,000 salary cap.
In 1997, Swans were on top of the ladder late in the season but missed the finals when players were dropped to reduce the club's annual payments.
Swans premiership player Michael Walters will make his first appearance for Peel as he prepares to resume at Fremantle.
The lively forward was named in a Thunder team that will give a league debut to utility player Josh Bootsma who joined the club after being sacked by Carlton in June.
Perth, who last week set an unwanted WAFL record by filling every position on the ladder as they slid from first after round one to last place, have recalled draft prospect Clem Smith to take on Claremont.
A virus prevented Smith playing league football last week but he filled in for the reserves team at late notice when it appeared the Demons might play short.
East Fremantle have regained defender Jamie McNamara as they attempt to beat West Perth and end any challenge to their place in the finals.
But Bradd Dalziell is out of action with a knee injury and may not play again this season if the Sharks miss the finals.
West Perth and Claremont can still reach the finals but require East Fremantle to win no more than one match.