Concerns over ugly AFL finals series

Slippery conditions in Queensland threatens to spoil the quality of play in the AFL finals series.
Slippery conditions in Queensland threatens to spoil the quality of play in the AFL finals series.

AFL clubs are going to unusual lengths to adapt to slippery conditions amid growing concerns over the standard of football that will be possible during finals matches in Queensland.

Dew on the ground at night time in the Sunshine State has caused plenty of issues for players this year, and has been partially blamed for below-average skills and games that are difficult to watch.

It presents a headache for the AFL leading into a finals series set to be played predominantly in Queensland, including a night grand final at the Gabba on October 24.

"The game's different," West Coast coach Adam Simpson said after his side's scrappy win over North Melbourne at Metricon Stadium on Thursday night.

"You're not going to see pretty footy, it doesn't matter who you are."

Collingwood have reportedly used baby oil on footballs at training and Simpson admitted West Coast have resorted to dipping them in soapy water.

But the method appears to have been in vain so far, with the Eagles' poor ball control a major factor in them going scoreless for the entire first quarter against North Melbourne.

It was the first time this century they had failed to trouble the scorers by quarter-time and the game never rose to any great heights.

"We started the game tonight thinking that we'd have a go at using the whole ground and trying to play our way," Simpson said.

"We learnt real quick ... but sometimes it's dry.

"Tonight it wasn't, so we thought we overused the ball a little bit and so did North.

"But that's just the way night games here are going to be."

Long-time Geelong coach Chris Scott, who also played 215 games for Brisbane, says Queensland conditions are "not as slippery as the commentators would have you believe".

But Lions coach Chris Fagan admits they have an effect on the style of football being played.

"It's only natural that the game slows down a bit and there's more tackles and more congestion," Fagan said.

"But that's been the case since the game began, I think, not just this year.

"Up here it's a fact of football life."

Six of the current top eight clubs will play 'home' finals in Queensland this year because of various COVID-19 restrictions.

The majority of those matches - if not all of them - will be played at night.

Australian Associated Press