The ‘risk’ Leigh Matthews would take if he was coaching either grand final club
AFL coaching icon Leigh Matthews says he’d run the risk of injuring a key player with a “fair-dinkum” contact training session in the lead-up to Saturday week’s AFL grand final if he was coaching Melbourne or the Western Bulldogs.
He says the two-week break between games could prove tricky for the clubs to manage.
Matthews, who played or coached in a dozen grand finals, experienced having the week off between the old second semi-final and grand final on six occasions.
The difference, this year, is both teams in the decider will have two weeks to prepare for the decider.
He said Simon Goodwin and Luke Beveridge needed to get their playing groups “out of their comfort zone” at some point over the next week.
“That session has to be the kind of session that’s going to get your ready to be playing a fair-dinkum game a week later,” Matthews said on 3AW.
“If there is a risk of injury? I’d be taking it.
“You don’t want the players to be killing each other, but you’ve got to have a fair-dinkum contact session.
“And that’s as much for your mind, as it is your body.
“You’ve got to hone your reflexes – that’s what can go in a break between games.
“It can go in seven days, let alone 14.”
Matthews said unlike his experience with the 14-day break before a grand final, both clubs already knew who they’d be playing.
He says there is also a risk of “playing your game” too early.
“If the clubs are thinking about selection two weeks out, and players are thinking about who they might be playing on, I think that’s a problem,” Matthews explained.
“That’s something the teams have to cope with.”
Press PLAY below to hear Leigh Matthews discuss the challenges for both clubs