AFL training return could be delayed
Adelaide's flagrant breach of social distancing rules could delay the AFL's return to training until Monday week with quarantining players still locked in their homes in Perth and Adelaide.
As the AFL Commission prepares to meet to thrash out plans for a return to play, the Herald Sun has confirmed West Coast still have players in quarantine until Thursday May 21.
The AFLPA will canvass its 18 club captains on Monday morning in a crucial meeting as players prepare for return-to-play conditions including bulk COVID-19 tests before they start training.
Clubs had been told the AFL might help lobby state governments to lift 14-day quarantine periods for players returning to SA and WA but now say Adelaide's issues have dashed those plans.
As one football figure said: "It was the AFL's intention to try to get some of the restrictions relaxed but now the Adelaide thing has happened there is no chance of that now.
"It was made clear to every club to err on the side of caution and not to look for competitive advantage. The AFL couldn't have made it clearer."
West Coast has quarantining players who only went into isolation last Thursday, meaning they have 10 more days in the confines of their home.
Port Adelaide has 17 players quarantining in their homes while Adelaide's players are allowed to train on the club-funded training camp at a Novotel Resort in the Barossa Valley.
The Herald Sun can reveal South Australian police have begun doorknocking Port Adelaide players to ensure they are at home, illustrating how seriously the quarantine measures are being enforced.
All but three Power players are set to finish that exclusion period next weekend, with the remaining trio out of quarantine on Tuesday week.
The league has already indicated under a one-size-fits all policy no club can train in groups of 10 until all AFL clubs are ready to return.
In quarantine players were urged by their clubs to act as if they had COVID-19, not leaving houses and only doing exercise in the confines of their homes.
If a date is pushed back to May 18 it could again delay the AFL season given the league will need a staged return with at least one week with Level B training restrictions before full contact drills.
Under one scenario raised with team officials, clubs could have one full team training session a week, and two sessions restricting players to groups of 10.
The Sunday Herald Sun revealed the league's best case scenario is a June 11 return but that depends upon eased restrictions set to be announced by premiers including Victoria's Daniel Andrews on Monday.
The AFL wants to relaunch the season in Round 2 with some blockbuster matches potentially including local derbies in each state.
It would allow all eight interstate teams to resume their season in their home states before the two West Australian teams are potentially forced to relocate to the eastern seaboard.
Games between West Coast and Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide, Sydney and GWS Giants and Brisbane and Gold Coast would also add extra spice to the resumption round.
West Coast and Fremantle are still trying to lobby the West Australian Government to allow teams to be able to fly in and out of the state to play games in Perth.
But the clubs' efforts fell flat again as WA premier Mark McGowan confirmed the state would maintain its hard border.
It means the Eagles and Dockers may have to live in a hub arrangement in either Melbourne or Gold Coast to play their first phase of games.
But that would deliver a major blow to West Coast's premiership dreams as the club attempts to win a second flag in three years this season.
Gold Coast has some appeal as a hub venue as it would mean Melbourne teams would still have to travel and play away from the MCG and Marvel Stadium against the WA teams.
In any case, players and staff at every club are expected to be tested for COVID-19 this week in order to be cleared to return to training in groups of 6-10 players.
The AFL has the capacity to carry out bulk testing throughout the season with players facing up to three tests a week, including on game day.
These tests can detect coronavirus even before symptoms are shown.
Players are certain to be subject to strict restrictions which encourage them to limit their movements to training and playing after the season resumes.
Originally published as AFL training return could be delayed