Victorian Government Approves AFL Training, Here's How It Might Work
Settling on league-wide training protocols will be a crucial step as the AFL closes in on a plan to restart the 2020 season, with an announcement potentially as early as Tuesday.
As things stand, players across the league can currently only train in pairs, to ensure fairness across the 18 teams, despite varying restrictions across the different states.
On Monday, all 10 Victorian clubs were handed exemptions by the state government to train at full capacity -- including full-contact work -- from Wednesday, providing they operate in exclusive facilities away from the general public.
The four AFL clubs in NSW and Queensland appear likely to receive similar exemptions, in line with those given to their NRL counterparts.
But in South Australia and Western Australia, there are no exemptions yet for professional teams, with West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide players currently only permitted to train in groups of 10, without contact.
"The AFL is still enforcing the current national AFL protocols for all clubs which restricts training to only two players at a time while it continues to finalise its arrangements on its return to play model, to be announced in the coming days," an AFL spokesperson said on Monday.
If WA and SA clubs aren't granted state government permission to train as full groups, they could be required to temporarily relocate their operations to help recommence the season.
Several players at West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide, and Port Adelaide are also currently in quarantine after returning from interstate -- some until as late as May 21.
But on Monday, West Coast coach Adam Simpson hinted the Eagles could be willing to begin training without their quarantined players.
"Look, I think we'd be willing to waive a couple of days so we could get going," Simpson told Channel 7.
Beyond getting football up and running, the AFL will have to juggle the financial ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic, including cuts to football department soft caps and potentially playing lists.
"The uncertainty of the whole landscape is tough on players and staff," Collingwood general manager of football Geoff Walsh told Channel Nine's Footy Classified.
"(It will be easier) once we get some certainty around numbers on soft caps, player list sizes, and in those types of things that are crucial to assembling your footy department going forward and trying to retain as many of your people as you can."