Sam Groth with wife Brittany.
Sam Groth with wife Brittany.

Tennis star’s jab at ‘unfathomable’ AFL gripe

AFL players remain concerned about being separated from loved ones for extended periods if they are forced into quarantine hubs.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and his decision makers are weighing up multiple states as potential bases for training, accommodation and matches in hubs to restart the 2020 competition.

The AFL hopes to finalise its season resumption plan by May 11, and the hub proposal remains a contentious issue among the playing group.

Via a phone hook-up on Tuesday, the competition's 840 players heard some planned measures that might be put in place to resume amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clubs could be slotted into hubs for eight weeks at a time and GWS defender Phil Davis says that could prove too long for some players.

"I could get myself to that eight week position but understand that could be a challenge for not only a mental wellbeing point of view and also making sure I could be a good partner," he told Fox Footy.

"The playing group have shown over such a long period of time that we're willing to put the industry ahead of ourselves and be as selfless as we can. The more time we can spend with our families, that is more likely to have a positive response."

But former Australian tennis professional Sam Groth poked fun at the complaint. "Imagine having to travel away from home, family and friends to get paid to play sport for an extended period of time, it's unfathomable," he tweeted.

Current star John Millman laughed in response to Groth's tweet.

AFL Players' Association president Patrick Dangerfield has expressed cautious support for the concept while vice-president Rory Sloane is among other leading players to have raised concerns.

Players are likely to be influenced by personal circumstance. The widely held view is that those with young families would generally be more reticent to enter hubs for extended periods.

Melbourne captain Max Gawn said player welfare in hubs would be at the forefront of his mind.

"We have a call this afternoon with (AFLPA chief) Paul Marsh and the Players' Association, so I'm sure he will tell us more," Gawn said on RSN radio on Tuesday morning.

"From what I've read it (the hubs) seems like it would be perfect for me. I've got no real family that I live with or need me at the moment … but a lot of my teammates will have some talking points about it.

"It will be discussed over the next little bit (of time) but I think footy just needs to get back and players have got to come to some sort of agreement. But I do understand that there is a welfare side of it."

Gawn's Demons teammate Ed Langdon told The Age last week he felt that some players would not cope with the mental adjustment required in going from isolation to an intense high-performance environment.

South East Queensland is one potential base for a hub and Gold Coast chief executive Mark Evans believes the region could offer players and staff ways to negotiate hub life.

"The biggest thing is you do have to consider what the players and the clubs will do in (their downtime)," Evans told SEN Breakfast.

"You can't just train and have meetings all day. The ability to have some resort-style facilities or the weather, I think, is a big advantage."

- AAP

Originally published as Tennis star's jab at 'unfathomable' AFL gripe


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