‘Madness’: AFL great slams bizarre move

Footy legend Gerard Healy has blasted the AFL for a “rubbish” scheduling call after the league opted to snub Thursday evening games for Rounds 7 and 8.

On Thursday, the AFL unveiled another two weeks of fixtures for the 2021 premiership, with Rounds 7 and 8 boasting a couple of blockbusters.

Defending champions Richmond will take on the Western Bulldogs on Friday, April 30 before facing the Geelong Cats in a Grand Final rematch on Friday, May 7.

West Coast and Fremantle are also scheduled to face off in a Perth derby at Optus Stadium on Sunday, May 9.

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But several fans were disappointed to see the popular Thursday night clashes had been removed, with five matches scheduled on the Saturdays.

Consequently, the NRL is expected to receive a ratings boost with no major sporting competitors for their Thursday fixtures.

Two of the premiership’s most thrilling contests to date occurred on Thursdays — Brisbane secured a one-point win in Round 3 before Sydney mustered a nailbiting three-point victory over Essendon in Round 4.

Healy voiced his frustration on Fox Footy’s First Crack, arguing the AFL had created a “ridiculous scenario” in which the league had unnecessarily overlapped games.

“I’m telling you now there is a bloke at the AFL who suffers badly from nyctalopia (night blindness). For the last two weeks, we have seen Thursday night brilliance,” Healy said on Thursday evening.

“This is a ridiculous scenario that we’ve got ourselves in.

“Just put a Thursday night stand-alone game, which means we don’t have to go up against ourselves. At the present time we are fighting rugby league, we’re fighting netball, we’re fighting everybody else for entertainment.”

Tom McCartin and Oliver Florent of the Swans.Source:Getty Images

Fox Sports reporter Tom Morris pointed out the AFL was potentially looking to avoid subjecting players to shortened breaks between games, which Healy bluntly labelled “rubbish”.

“We know that’s rubbish. We had two sides tonight coming off five-day breaks,” Healy responded.

“We have just had two of the greatest games we’ve had for a long time, we’ve got players playing brilliant footy.

“It’s on Thursday night, it’s a stand-alone game, and on Saturday in three weeks time, we’re going to have three games going up against dividing our own crowd. That is madness, that is divide and conquer yourself. And that doesn’t work.”

St Kilda great Leigh Montagna agreed: “We’ve seen over the last year how resilient players are.

“I know ideally they want seven-day breaks and ideally they want all these things, but we’ve seen players can handle it.

“They can do it maybe not week after week after week, but you can give them a five-day break and they will be okay. They survive. They get through the footy still pretty good.”

ROUND SEVEN

Friday, April 30

Richmond Tigers vs Western Bulldogs — MCG, 7.50pm AEST

Saturday, May 1

Collingwood Magpies vs Gold Coast Sun — MCG, 1.45pm AEST

Adelaide Crows vs GWS Giants — Adelaide Oval, 1.40pm ACST

St Kilda vs Hawthorn Hawks — Marvel Stadium, 4.35pm AEST

Sydney Swans vs Geelong Cats — SCG, 7.25pm AEST

Brisbane Lions vs Port Adelaide — Gabba, 7.25pm AEST

Sunday, May 2

North Melbourne vs Melbourne — Blundstone Arena, 1.10pm AEST

Essendon Bombers vs Carlton — MCG, 3.20pm AEST

West Coast Eagles vs Fremantle Dockers — Optus Stadium, 2.40pm AWST

ROUND EIGHT

Friday, May 7

Richmond Tigers vs Geelong Cats — MCG, 7.50pm AEST

Saturday, May 8

GWS Giants vs Essendon Bombers — Giants Stadium, 1.45pm AEST

Gold Coast Suns vs St Kilda — Metricon Stadium, 2.10pm AEST

North Melbourne vs Collingwood Magpies — Marvel Stadium, 4.35pm AEST

Melbourne vs Sydney Swans — MCG, 7.25pm AEST

Port Adelaide vs Adelaide Crows — Adelaide Oval, 7.10pm ACST

Sunday, May 9

Hawthorn Hawks vs West Coast Eagles — MCG, 1.10pm AEST

Western Bulldogs vs Carlton — Marvel Stadium, 3.20pm AEST

Fremantle Dockers vs Brisbane Lions — Optus Stadium, 2.40pm AWST

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