Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has quashed any talk of the AFL following the lead of the NRL and restarting its competition any time soon.
Premier Andrews announced on Sunday the state of emergency in Victoria will be extended until at least May 11, meaning strict enforcement of social distancing and isolation measures remain in place to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The NRL has announced plans to resume playing on May 28 but with 10 of the 18 AFL clubs based in Victoria the extension of restrictions and border lockdowns affecting interstate clubs means they are unlikely to follow suit.
The AFL has so far taken a cautious approach and hasn’t set a resumption date, saying it will be guided by government measures.
Andrews said while the decision was ultimately for the AFL, he feared there were “many weeks and months to go”.
“Many people would love to see footy back as soon as possible but that’s ultimately a matter for the AFL,” Andrews said on Sunday.
“I’m very confident the AFL will be in close contact with the Department of Health and Human Services and particularly the public health team.
“Everyone wants to get our state back to something approaching normal and footy is a really big and important part of the way our state functions.
“I do fear, though, that we have many weeks and months to go with quite extraordinary measures and the good thing is that the strategy is working.”
🐯What do you miss the most about being at the footy?
🐯I can’t wait to hear our theme song in front of a big crowd. 🏟
🐯This is my favourite – pure joy after beating GWS to make the 2017 Grand Final. 😁
🐯And they initially played the wrong song. 😂#GoTiges #AFL pic.twitter.com/ayGncez7CY
— Cheryl Critchley (@CherylCritchley) April 4, 2020
Meanwhile, AFL heavyweight Jeff Kennett has slammed NRL’s plans to resume playing next month, calling it “irresponsible”.
Hawthorn president Kennett, the former Victorian premier, says the NRL is putting money ahead of player health and welfare by committing to a restart for their competition.
“I think what the NRL people have done is totally irresponsible … absolutely irresponsible,” Kennett told the Sunday Herald Sun.
“It shows no regard at all for the welfare of their players and hopefully the government will step in and put them back in their place.
“That just shows you that they are putting commercial considerations ahead of their players, and to me that is unforgivable.”
The GPS conundrum
Carlton coach David Teague has revealed another obstacle in the AFL clubs’ quest to belatedly re-launch the 2020 season – clubs are unable to remotely track their players’ training.
Teague said that under an AFL ruling, clubs can’t use any equipment to remotely monitor the efforts of players.
“You’re not allowed to track them with any GPS or anything like that,” Teague told ABC Grandstand on Sunday.
The first-year coach said many of his players used technology such as smart watches but any feedback flowing back to the club was on a voluntary basis.
“In terms of that (GPS) feedback coming back to the club, that is whether a player wants to volunteer it or not,” Teague said.
“We can’t demand it of the players – and that’s an AFL rule.
“We’ve got no real issue there and most of our boys are feeding back information but it’s an AFL rule, not a club rule.”
Teague believed mental health was behind the ruling so players didn’t feel under constant scrutiny while away from the club.
He trusted the Blues would stay in good shape while they were away from the club after impressing through the pre-season.
“I’m really confident with our group that they will do the work – we’ve got a highly driven group who are really motivated,” Teague said.
“The way they applied themselves over the pre-season, I was super impressed with.”
Teague said had been given no official timeline for the resumption of the AFL competition, with the governing body telling coaches they would get an update later this month.
“The AFL said on April 27 they will come out and let us know whether we come back in early May but my gut feel is that it probably won’t be then and it will get pushed back,” he said.
Meanwhile, Teague was against an idea floated by ex-Carlton coach Mick Malthouse that round one points should be scrapped.
With such a time lag between rounds one and two, Malthouse said the opening round should be considered a practice round, with the competition starting properly with the next game.
Despite Carlton losing to Richmond, Teague said the result should stand.
“We went out there to win and Richmond were too good on the day so I’m comfortable with them starting with four points and us with zero,” he said.
“We went out and lost, so I’m happy to wear it on the chin.”