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North Melbourne to volunteer players for radical concept
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NORTH Melbourne has volunteered to play its stars in the AFL’s contentious AFLX experiment next February after successfully trialling the concept early this year.

The league is still tight-lipped about the likely format but a round-robin format over a weekend before the JLT series is the most likely scenario.

The seven-a-side game played on a soccer-sized field has been criticised as a cash-grab by the league.

But Kangaroos footy boss Cam Joyce said the concept could take off next year.

He said the Roos’ experience in that secret trial was of an exciting, “high octane” game that could see players with unique skill sets specific to AFLX thrive.

“We like it and we think it’s the best time of the year to play it. Guys are fit and ready and playing match simulation anyway.

“We think it’s a high-octane, high-intensity game and having trialled it for the AFL at Arden St the boys really liked it.

“The AFL have done well finding a short form of the product and if we had a lot of teams in one venue playing eight or 10 games over the course of a day or two with a Grand Final, it would work.”

Joyce said there was no reason why clubs wouldn’t play their stars in at least one of the games, which have four 10-minute quarters.

“You would normally play a JLT game at that time of year so some teams would leave their best players out, but with a shortened game you might play your more experienced players in one of those games.

“It was high-scoring, you could kick goals from anywhere and given it was high-intensity there were certainly some physiological benefits.”

North Melbourne and Melbourne kick off the pre-season on February 24, which means the league could play AFLX on the previous weekend.

The Roos are in Utah on a two-week high altitude camp, with 19 of their one to four-year players.

Many clubs have given up the high-altitude experience but Joyce said the chance to bond and train together overseas was invaluable.

North has picks 4, 23, 64 and 78 in the national draft, having been unable to secure a third high pick in the trade period.

But they are hopeful ex-GWS defender Paul Ahern could eventually turn into a long-term player, having secured him for pick 69 last year.

His ACL has needed reconstruction twice, but they will ease him into training, hopeful he can justify his position as the No. 7 pick in the 2014 draft.

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