Neil Balme: "It's a bit hard to know who the AFL are trying to satisfy." Photo: Paul Rovere
The timing of the AFL's ''captain's pick'' game would prompt Heath Shaw to ''kindly decline'' any offer to play in the proposed pre-season finale.
The former Magpie now Greater Western Sydney Giant said that while he enjoyed playing for Victoria in a state of origin game, he would not like to risk his body in an exhibition match so close to the start of the season, joking that he would fake an injury rather than line up.
The AFL has considered the game between two all-star teams skippered by grand final captains Matthew Pavlich and Luke Hodge - revealed in The Age on Wednesday - as part of a revamped pre-season program.
''I'll be honest, I won't be putting my hand up to play seven days out from the start of the season,'' Shaw told 3AW on Wednesday. ''Obviously the focus is on round one and getting yourself right for round one … I'll kindly decline that offer if it ever comes to me.
''I'd just say I've got a bit of hamstring tightness and get the physio to back me up.''
Geelong football manager Neil Balme was sympathetic to the AFL's need to satisfy its sponsors and telecast partners, but he said it appeared the clubs and the players were some way down the list of ''people who are having a say''.
''To be fair to the AFL, they have been keen to consider things like the all-stars game or state of origin or some other kind of representative game, and I can understand how there might be some doubt as to what the best format will be,'' Balme said on SEN.
''It's a bit difficult, isn't it? It's a bit hard to know who the AFL are trying to satisfy. They've got to satisfy the gap that's not going to be there for the NAB Cup, so the sponsors probably want something and the televisers want something.''
One leading club chief executive said he was sceptical about players' supposed desire for a representative game. "What happens with these things is the players all say they want it, then before the game happens they start withdrawing from it."