Sport AFL AFL clubs split their best players as training resumes

AFL clubs split their best players as training resumes

Players were up bright and early on Monday to train in small groups ahead of the season's return on June 11.
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AFL clubs are splitting their best players across different training groups of eight to avoid having them all put in isolation if one tests positive for coronavirus.

Right across the league, players began training in groups of eight on Monday, before a return to whole group, full-contact training next week from Monday May 25.

Clubs were being strategic in compiling their groups as, if one player tests positive, the other seven players also have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew said the Suns had put together groups with a mix of experience and different positions to avoid a scenario where their best players – or, for example, all their defenders – could be put into quarantine.

“We’ve done a bit of a mix of experience, bit of like-for-like stuff and also positional,” Dew told SEN.

“I think the theory behind it is if one group has to sit out for 14 days, obviously you don’t put all your best 22 in similar groups.

“(So) we’ve got a little bit of a mix – even to the point of a couple of inside (players) in one group, a couple in the other, speed in one, speed in the other – just in case.

“Our boys have been pretty good and clearly everyone’s tested negative thus far but we’ve just got to be vigilant.”

Adelaide and Port Adelaide will train in the South Australian capital this week and plan to arrive in their Gold Coast quarantine hubs by Sunday May 24.

There are a range of mechanisms in place targeted at avoiding a COVID-19 outbreak.

Players and officials have already undergone the first of what will soon be twice-weekly coronavirus tests, and they also face daily health checks, while the return to training has come with strict restrictions.

Players cannot have unnecessary visitors in their homes, visit friends at their houses or go to cafes – beyond getting takeaway food or coffee.

They are also not allowed to play golf or go surfing.

“We’ve had a lot of instruction from the players’ association and the AFL and we’ve got to pretty much revert back to the restrictions that we just came out of (in Victoria),” Melbourne winger Adam Tomlinson told SEN Breakfast.

“It’s just what we’ve got to do to get footy back on the park.

“It’s a little bit annoying but at the same time we’d rather be out there training and playing footy and … we still get to go to the footy club and see all the boys so it’s not as if we’re still just training with a partner.

“So pretty much you can only go outside your house for those four reasons of work, picking up kids, medical and and to the supermarket to get food.”