Now 56 of the AFL’s top players have come together, the big question is whether they can draw a crowd.
Friday night’s AFLX mini-tournament at Marvel Stadium will feature four all-star teams and plenty of gimmicks as the league tries to generate fan interest in the modified game format.
Indigenous star Eddie Betts has promised his Deadly team will be “pimped out” in smart pre-game fashion, while the game of rock-paper-scissors will replace the traditional coin toss to decide the choice of ends.
This year’s rules feature a designated “game changer”, who can earn double points for the final five minutes of each game.
The eight-a-side games will feature minimal contact, while players have been encouraged to engage in on-field banter and “express their personalities” by choosing their own pre-game outfits.
Betts, Patrick Dangerfield (Bolts), Nat Fyfe (Flyers) and Jack Riewoldt (Rampage) will capture the 14-man squads.
There were several last-minute withdrawals in the last few days due to injuries and Hawthorn’s Isaac Smith and Luke Breust also opted not to take part.
But it is still a formidable group of players, with Marcus Bontempelli, Shaun Burgoyne, Steele Sidebottom and Patrick Cripps among the big names who will play.
And they stress it is something different.
“Live a little. Have an open mind,” Fyfe said.
“This is not to be seen as something that’s similar to regular fixture AFL.
“This is fun, this is for the kids, the colours are bright, the names are a bit funky, so have a good time.”
The six mini-games and the grand final on Friday night will also form a hitout for the players ahead of their pre-season matches.
The obvious worry for clubs and fans is injury.
“We’ll be smart with the way we play – all teams will – but you can get injured at training,” Dangerfield said.
“If you’re fearful of injuries, you’ll never create anything different. Unfortunately they’re just a part of our game.”