Tom Lynch won’t be training with Jack Riewoldt this week. Picture: AAP Image/Scott Barbour
Tom Lynch won’t be training with Jack Riewoldt this week. Picture: AAP Image/Scott Barbour

How AFL clubs are protecting their stars from COVID-19

Some clubs will take the extra precaution of separating their star players when training begins in groups of eight today.

Players will return on Monday to their clubs for one week of non-contract training as preparations ramp up for a June 11 restart.

But instead of lumping all of their superstar midfielders together in one of the eight-man groups, officials contacted indicated they would take a more strategic approach and spread the talent more evenly to help mitigate the threat of infection.

The AFL has warned any player who tests positive for COVID-19 would have to isolate for at least 14 days along with any players and staff they have come in direct contact with.

 

Clubs are being smart about protecting their stars. Picture: AAP Image
Clubs are being smart about protecting their stars. Picture: AAP Image

It means some clubs will today separate some of their biggest names to ensure they protect against the threat of losing all of their most important players or gun midfielders in one hit.

For example, Melbourne would be wise to split-up first-rate defenders Jake Lever, Steven May, Neville Jetta and Oscar and Tom McDonald, as a positive test among that group would effectively wipe-out all of their first-choice defenders.

Likewise, Richmond may want to separate key forwards Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt to help dodge the threat of losing both of them.

Brisbane Lions' chief executive Greg Swann told the Herald Sun the club didn't want to put similar types of star players together.

"They're the things we've had chats about," Swann said.

"Do you we put all the best players in the one group, or do we split them up because if one player gets crook, then do you run the risk of losing all of your stars?

"If you have all your midfielders together, such as Lachie Neale and (Dayne) Zorko and Jarryd Lyons, and Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage all go down, you are in trouble.

Tom Lynch won’t be training with Jack Riewoldt this week. Picture: AAP Image/Scott Barbour
Tom Lynch won’t be training with Jack Riewoldt this week. Picture: AAP Image/Scott Barbour

"Richmond, for example, do they have 'Dusty' (Dustin Martin) and (Trent) Cotchin and Dion Prestia together?

"That's why, in the end, we decided to spread them around. So, (top key defenders) Darcy Gardiner and Harris (Andrews) would all be in separate groups."

Clubs will be permitted to train as a full squad in contact drills from next week, allowing the two South Australian clubs time to set up in their quarantine hub in Queensland where they will also be permitted to start full team contact training on Monday May 25.

Officials yesterday helped finalise their 25-person football departments to conform with new AFL rules and also settle on the make-up of the eight-man training groups.

Players have been allowed to train and kick the footy in twos throughout the shutdown but teams will introduce more decision-making and skills under fatigue in the sessions from today.

Carlton football manager Brad Lloyd said the players would welcome the return to group training.

"There'll be a lot of getting skills in," Lloyd said.

"It's skill-based so there's no tackling, no wrestling, no contact, no tackling bags - all those sort of things.

"It might be good for them to start to move around and kick with more than one person.

"They're itching to get back into it and they've done their time, they're ready to go."

Meetings will be held in small groups for a short time only.

The AFL's players and club staff will be tested twice a week for COVID-19 and be subject to some of the most strict conditions in the country to ensure the season can resume.

Every player's housing situation will be assessed with the AFL urging players to avoid welcoming casual visitors into their homes.

Any breaches will attract significant penalties, with the threat of deregistration looming for blatant disregard of the biosecurity measures put in place.

Originally published as How clubs are protecting their stars from COVID-19


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