Blues not interested in De Goey; McLachlan open to earlier Friday night matches

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Voss said he was confident Brodie Kemp could fill the role needed in defence with Voss impressed at how the backline had bounced back from each setback.

“I focus on what we have not what we don’t,” Voss said.

Fremantle have a potent forward line but have been renowned for their defensive play in 2022.

Voss said the Blues had to at least break even in the contest to ensure their forwards had enough supply to score and their defenders weren’t attempting to repel repeat entries having conceded 76 inside 50s against Richmond last round.

“We don’t need any heroes. We need guys that really value the important part of the game and we have to make sure we get our contested game tidy,” Voss said.

Meanwhile, Jack Newnes plays his 200th game, with the self-deprecating wingman saying his matchwinning and memorable goal from the boundary after the siren against Fremantle last year was one of his career highlights.

He is an important role player at the Blues, having played in the past eight matches as he looks to cement a spot in a team pushing to play finals.

Newnes is yet to play a final in his career, having played 155 games with St Kilda before joining Carlton in 2020.

“I find myself in a position I have probably never been in my career,” Newnes said.

Thursday and Saturday night matches begin at least 20 minutes earlier but the late finish on the marquee night of the round has been seen as contributing to attendance and even broadcast ratings issues.

In an anonymous survey of 16 club bosses conducted by The Age, they said the late finish made it hard for families, people involved in junior sport on Saturdays, or commuters hoping to attend games in metropolitan venues.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan said on Friday the league was open to change.

“If we can get there. It’s only ever been at 7.50pm when … people have to be able to go home and pick up kids and be able to get to the game. If we can get it to 7.20pm, and if that’s where our partners and supporters want to be, then that’s when we want to start, absolutely,” McLachlan said on 3AW.

Television insiders say the late finish, combined with post-match analysis, helps broadcasters cover the entire prime-time viewing hours, when advertising is at a premium.

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The AFL is continuing to broker a new multibillion-dollar broadcast agreement, having met with local free-to-air networks and pay television chiefs last week. Foxtel, Seven, Ten and Nine, the latter the owner of this masthead, have all met with McLachlan and his team.

The Age survey found five club bosses felt the attendance issues were specifically due to Friday night’s start time being too late. One club boss said the late timeslot also allowed people to drink alcohol before they turned up to games, which made the environment for supporters less family-friendly.

The AFL Fans Association has also repeatedly called for an earlier start on Friday nights.

There is another test case on Friday night, with the league scheduling two matches. The first, between the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium, begins at the family-friendly time of 7pm, before West Coast host Essendon, with that clash beginning at 8.40pm on the eastern seaboard.

McLachlan said Thursday night football still had support, describing the attendance of almost 38,000 who attended the Demons’ win over Brisbane as “great” and close to a record for a Thursday night.

A week after Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said the illicit drugs policy was deeply flawed after Bailey Smith admitted to taking a banned substance, McLachlan defended the three-strikes process.

Gillon McLachlan was pleased with Thursday night’s crowd for Melbourne’s win over the Brisbane Lions.Credit:AFL Photos

“That policy gets an ongoing review almost annually, and I know there is a formal review type this year. All I can note about that is, that the concept with players with mental health challenges slipping through the net is not true. It’s actually the opposite,” he said.

“They get an extreme amount of medical and mental health help and they are target tested. It’s actually the lens is tougher, not lighter.”

The Age’s anonymous survey of club bosses showed that significant support remained for the medical model in place, while even those who thought any loopholes that allowed players to take drugs without fear of consequence should be closed indicated the issue remained complex.

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