The Greater Western Sydney Giants claim they are protecting the long-term futures of their young players by cutting their AFL seasons short.
Leading goalscorer Jeremy Cameron and AFL No.1 draft pick Jonathon Patton are among a handful of emerging stars who will have season-ending surgery this week.
While the Giants need to beat the Melbourne Demons in Canberra this Saturday to try and avoid the AFL's wooden spoon, there is a line-up of young players ready to go under the surgeon's knife.
The list may grow longer yet as Giants co-captain Callan Ward will be assessed later this week with what the club hopes is only a minor case of osteitis pubis.
Cameron, who has kicked 29 goals in his rookie season and is one of the favourites for the AFL's Rising Star award, will have hip surgery in Melbourne today.
He's one of three young Giants booked in for the bone operation, which will require a 12-week recovery. Tim Mohr had the same surgery yesterday, while Tim Frost will undergo the procedure next week.
Patton had slowly worked his way into the AFL this season after having radical treatment in Sweden for a patella injury more commonly referred to as jumper's knee.
But his rookie year will finish early too as he requires a minor operation to fix a dislocated shoulder from the win over Port Adelaide two weeks ago.
Another of the Giants' record seven nominees for the Rising Star award, Dylan Shiel, faces the longest rehabilitation. He had surgery yesterday to repair a bone on his big toe which will require four to six months of rehabilitation.
The Giants have used 35 AFL debutants this season and the club's head of sport science, John Quinn, a veteran of 10 years with the Essendon Bombers, admitted the club had been forced to monitor and manage some of the players through this debut season with existing injuries.
But Quinn said the club had a duty of care to ensure the players weren't jeopardising their long term futures.
''We've actually managed them through their first year with those things and I think we've done pretty well in terms of the management stuff,'' Quinn said.
''We're constantly measuring the loads of these young boys and resting them out of games and that type of thing - how they're responding to training, the feedback they give us, we do jump tests, blood tests on a daily basis we're measuring them and monitoring them all the time.''
Quinn said Cameron had arrived at the Giants with hip issues, but the injury was exacerbated when he twisted his hip in a fall against Port Adelaide a fortnight ago.
''It was touch and go if he should have missed a few games with that hip, but we played him up on the Gold Coast on the weekend - that was a very important game for us and it didn't really help it too much. So we thought let's get it sorted now,'' Quinn said.
''Whether the AFL deem him to be the Rising Star I don't know but we think he's certainly a rising star for the Giants and we need to get him a little bit bigger. While he's got this hip injury he's not going to be able to progress as he should.''
''By doing this we can prevent the injury from getting worse but also save him from injuries when he's long retired from football such as arthritis in the hip joint. We think it's the sensible thing to do.''