Since the implementation of the pre-finals bye – which came about after North Melbourne and Fremantle rested players en masse in the final round of 2015 – only four qualifying final winners have qualified for the grand final. They are: Richmond and Adelaide (2017), West Coast (2018) and Richmond (2019). Conversely six qualifying final winners have lost a fortnight later in the preliminary final: Geelong and Greater Western Sydney (2016), Richmond (2018), Collingwood (2019) and Port and Brisbane (2020).
Lions coach Chris Fagan said it was an issue worth exploring.
“It’s actually a good question and it’s really hard to say,” Fagan said.
“That thought went through my mind because we’ve only played 17 games this year and…