A hot issue? West Coast to host afternoon prelim

The AFL's first afternoon preliminary final in seven years has thrown up the possibility of the game being played in difficult conditions, with the chance of hot weather in Perth weather in late September.

The first bounce of West Coast's home preliminary final at Optus Stadium will be at 1.20pm Perth  time, to ensure either Melbourne or Hawthorn can return home on Saturday night and have as much time as possible to prepare for the grand final, should they beat the Eagles.

The AFL confirmed the fixture late on Tuesday.

“On behalf of the AFL, we wish to thank Virgin Australia, for their many hours of work to be able to achieve a direct flight immediately after the game,” AFL fixture boss Travis Auld said.

Day final: The Eagles' preliminary final will be played in the afternoon.

Day final: The Eagles’ preliminary final will be played in the afternoon.

The last time a preliminary final was fixtured to start in the afternoon – as opposed to twilight – was in 2011 when Geelong hosted West Coast at the MCG. West Coast also played in a home preliminary final against a Victorian team in 2015, when they beat North Melbourne by 25 points, but that was scheduled as a twilight fixture (5.45pm Perth time).

The Kangaroos were forced to get the red-eye home that night.

In an elimination final in 2012 between the same teams, in a 3.15pm fixture, the game was played in 29-degree heat and the Eagles belted North Melbourne by 96 points.

The Kangaroos players struggled, with Jamie McMillan vomiting on the flight home due to heat stroke.

The league has come under intense scrutiny from Eddie McGuire for its finals scheduling, with the Collingwood president outraged that his Pies could face a six-day break in the build-up to a preliminary final if they beat GWS this weekend.

"If you just changed one game, that is the preliminary final and played Richmond's on a Saturday night and West Coast's on a Friday night every team would get a seven-day break [going into the preliminary final]. Why is that not top of mind?" McGuire exclaimed angrily on Triple M.

But Magpies coach Nathan Buckley was quick to hose down the issue on Tuesday.

"The football department doesn't have a problem with it, we have got a game to win on Saturday before it's a live issue," Buckley said on SEN.

"The common sense in all of us goes, 'well there might be a better way'.

"(But) no, it's not front of mind for us. We hope to be able to debunk the hysteria abound it at the moment."

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