Crows Forward Taylor Walker ready to play in the Blitz Golf Tournament. Picture SARAH REED
Crows Forward Taylor Walker ready to play in the Blitz Golf Tournament. Picture SARAH REED

Let them play golf! Plea to ease AFL player restrictions

Coronavirus cabinet member Jeff Kennett has urged the AFL to ease social restrictions on AFL players despite the NRL delaying a game because of a COVID-19 scare.

The Herald Sun understands players are likely to be allowed to visit other players' houses and play golf, surf and fish under the next easing of restrictions this week.

The Canterbury-Sydney Roosters game was delayed until Monday so Bulldogs forward Aiden Tolman could be tested after a staff member tested positive at his children's school.

The AFL does not believe it would need to delay games in similar circumstances because every player is tested 24 hours before a game and before training sessions.

Under that circumstance the player would be withdrawn from a game until he tested negative again.

Amid four COVID-19 protocol breaches, the AFLPA and AFL will review the regulations starting on Monday.

Players are also keen to gain access to playgrounds so they can share family time with their children and alleviate pressure and strain on partners, especially those who work.

Some players believe the restrictions are so unfair they have deliberately breached them, wanting to be able to sit down at cafes and restaurants instead of only buy takeaway coffees.

 

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Four players were suspended last week for breaching COVID-19 restrictions but Kennett said the AFL needed to show some common sense.

"Our guiding light has been what the medicos have told us, but I don't understand why we prohibit players from playing golf, particularly in the hubs," Kennett told the Herald Sun.

"You have got to give them the opportunity to do other things or they will go stir crazy.

"The AFL has been guided by governments and medical officers but they are now easing restrictions and some of those restrictions being imposed on players are so much more severe than the rest of the community. They are fundamentally outdated and unfair and I hope the AFL in co-ordination with medical officers agrees that some of the player restrictions can be eased."

An AFL spokesman said on Sunday of that review: "We have committed to an ongoing review of the protocols and will continue to work closely with the AFLPA and the state medical officers through this review."

 

Surfing is another popular pastime among AFL players including Patrick Dangerfield. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Surfing is another popular pastime among AFL players including Patrick Dangerfield. Picture: Nigel Hallett

 

Kennett said playing golf was a sport where players could socially distance easily, "particularly for those players in hubs who are living in an environment where they are cooped up".

Kennett said if an AFL player had a coronavirus scare similar to the NRL's exposure on Sunday the show would still be able to go on.

"I think that's right, my view would be that the player alone (would be tested and isolated), you don't hold up a team because of it. You have to understand when this whole thing started we knew very little about it and we have learnt a great deal since then.

"You can't hold a nation as hostage for one person or a cluster, you can't hold a state, you can't hold a football team."

AFL legend Jonathan Brown told Fox Footy the restrictions were only there to placate governments.

"The players have still got to be able to live their lives. The restrictions are to appease government because how can you tackle players on the field and then not be able to high five?"

 

Originally published as Let them play golf! Plea to ease AFL player restrictions


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