PORT Fairy coach Winis Imbi says the Seagulls' decision to forfeit a Hampden league senior football game is "a tough call but from my perspective the right call".
The bottom-placed Seagulls cited a horror injury list for the unprecedented call which leaves their opponent, top-placed Koroit, without an opponent on Saturday.
The Saints, who were to host the round 16 match at Victoria Park, will receive four premiership points and a 15-goal to zero result.
The forfeit could impact Maskell Medal voting while Saints forward Sam Dobson, who sits second on the goal-kicking table, will be denied a chance to add to his tally.
Port Fairy, which recorded a scoreless senior game earlier this year, also withdrew its reserves but will field an under 18 football side and all grades of netball.
Imbi also conceded "it was possible but unlikely" Port Fairy's senior team would have enough fit players to face Warrnambool the following weekend but was confident it would travel to face Hamilton Kangaroos at Melville Oval in the final round.
"It is just our reality at the moment," he told The Standard.
"We have 17 players who are unavailable this weekend and 15 are due to injuries.
"It's not like we don't have the numbers there, it's just they are not available to play and we have to have that duty of care to young and old.
"I can see from the outside perception that it might look terrible that we're forfeiting against Koroit but the reality is it wouldn't have mattered who we were playing this week, we still wouldn't be able to field a side."
Port Fairy president Noel Black said in a statement 64 per cent of its senior list was unavailable for Saturday's game.
"Season 2022 has not been without its difficulties for the senior football squad as many players have faced illness and major injuries throughout the year, rendering them unavailable for weekly selection," he said.
"As this continued throughout the season, fewer players were available, culminating this week where the coaches and selection committee were faced with numbers that were deemed unviable to ensure player welfare and safety."
Imbi said he crunched the numbers after training on Tuesday night before "sleeping on it" and then put his concerns in writing, providing them to the club's leaders who made the decision.
"It is a tough call but from my perspective it is definitely the right call," he said.
"I have a duty of care. I will use Matt Sully and Kaine Mercovich as examples.
"Both of those players played on the weekend against Portland and if things were different they would never have played.
"I even sent Matt a text before saying I felt terrible as a coach playing him last week.
"Kaine has what I would call a significant injury but it's just testament to both of those two key figures at our club that they are willing to play. I need to look after them."
Imbi said he felt for Koroit as the forfeit had a major impact on its team.
"I feel for Chris (McLaren) and his club; they would want to keep playing and practising their systems so they are right for their finals campaign," he said.
Port Fairy hopes its supporters and those players without a game will head to Victoria Park and watch the under 18 football and netball teams in action.
"The great thing is the under 18s and the seniors have been training a bit together, so we have a really good relationship," Imbi said.
"I'd love to go over there watch them and support them and it might be a good opportunity to support our netballers.
"Our open netballers have a tough year as well."
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