Star ‘gobsmacked’ by AFLX response
CATS star Patrick Dangerfield says he's been blown away by the level of criticism the revamped AFLX experiment has copped ahead of its return on Friday night.
Dangerfield, one of the four captains fronting the wacky new format, says the level of "vitriol" surrounding the concepts departures from traditional football has been completely over the top.
After a shaky launch last year, AFLX returns under a new format where some of the most high-profile stars in the game have been carved up into four generic teams fronted by Dangerfield, Jack Riewoldt, Eddie Betts and Nat Fyfe.
The Geelong midfielder says it's shocked him to see quickly the new format has been criticised before the first ball-up at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.
Dangerfield said the concept does not apologise for its focus towards non-traditional footy demographics, including children.
"This week and the last few days it's just been extraordinary," Dangerfield said of the public criticism surrounding AFLX.
"If you don't like it, don't watch it. Don't try to sell your hate to us all because that's all I've seen from a lot of apparent leading journalists.
"I'm just gobsmacked at how many negative articles surround it. If you don't like it, that's fine, it's not for you.
"It has surprised me the sheer level of negativity."
AFLX was further torn to pieces by footy comments earlier this week following the announcement that the traditional coin toss will be scrapped in favour of a game of scissors-paper-rock.
Dangerfield says the battle of wits has no bearing on the spectacle or the game and admits he doesn't see what the big deal is.
Other footy commentators were not on the same page.
Fox Footy commentator Gerard Whateley said AFLX is actually being staged at the right time for fans, who are still looking for something will the void left by the end of the cricket summer.
He says he'll be watching on Friday night, despite conceding the gimmicky nature of the event will never be everyone's cup of tea.
"So indulge in AFLX, or not. But why be mad about it," he said.
"There's a hopeless sporting void tomorrow night that AFLX fills. If there was no AFLX there wouldn't be a team in Tasmania. Nor has AFLW been deprived of desperately needed funds. Nor would the home and away season have started if AFLX wasn't being played.
"It'll be stuff and nonsense. Lord knows there'll be enough of the serious stuff to obsess over soon enough. Watch. Don't watch. But why be mad?"
The concept has been further hit this week by a series of later withdrawals from star players.
The much-maligned AFLX suffered twin blows this week with Melbourne's Tom McDonald and GWS forward Jeremy Cameron the latest star players to drop out of the tournament.
Both were ruled out on Wednesday with McDonald rested following an injection to relieve knee soreness and Cameron experiencing quad tightness.
McDonald was due to play for Jack Riewoldt's Rampage side in the February 22 tournament at Marvel Stadium, with Cameron selected to play for Nat Fyfe's Flyers.
The Demons confirmed on Wednesday their player had been administered a cortisone injection to relieve patella tendonitis but is not expected to miss any other games.
Cameron is also on track to play in the pre-season series.
Their absence is the latest bad news for the much-criticised concept, following hard on the heels of Hawthorn pair Isaac Smith and Luke Breust's decision to opt out in favour of rest.
The pair will play in Hawthorn's practice match against Carlton on Thursday and have then chosen to take advantage of an AFL-mandated four-day break.
New Hawks teammate Chad Wingard (calf) is among a number of players who have dropped out through injury.
Melbourne's Steven May (hamstring), Fremantle's Joel Hamling (calf), Port Adelaide's Robbie Gray (knee) and North Melbourne's Robbie Tarrant (shoulder) were all drafted before suffering setbacks.