Sport AFL Crows AFLW player refuses COVID-19 vaccination

Crows AFLW player refuses COVID-19 vaccination

AFLW player Deni Varnhagen is challenging South Australia's COVID-19 emergency declaration. Photo: AAP
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Adelaide says it strongly urges people to be vaccinated after AFLW premiership player Deni Varnhagen reportedly informed the club she is unwilling to receive a COVID-19 jab.

A registered nurse, who has experience working in intensive care wards, Varnhagen is the first known AFL or AFLW player to refuse the coronavirus vaccination.

The Crows have issued a statement following multiple reports but stressed they could not confirm or deny any player’s vaccination status due to medical confidentiality.

“Our club strongly encourages people to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” a club statement read.

“The club remains committed to following the health advice and guidelines set by government and the AFL.”

The AFL is yet to finalise a vaccination policy but the Victorian government’s requirement about a range of workers, which includes footballers, needing to be vaccinated came into effect last Friday.

Most Victorian clubs have confirmed that their AFLW programs are all compliant with the government vaccine protocols and players have been cleared to train and play.

There is no similar vaccine requirement in South Australia. But the state’s healthcare workers do need to have at least one jab before November 1.

Varnhagen, who played in the Crows’ 2017 and 2019 premierships, posted a video on social media on Saturday showing people marching in Adelaide for “freedom of choice”.

The 28-year-old followed it up with another clip holding a sign that read “health care hero’s (sic) in 2020 … unvaxed unwanted in 2021”.

Varnhagen has played 31 games for the Crows in the first five seasons of AFLW.

Elsewhere, Richmond has confirmed one of its AFLW players has tested positive for COVID-19. She returned a positive result after a pre-training rapid antigen test on Saturday.

Training did not occur that day as a result and Richmond’s AFLW squad is isolating and awaiting directions from Victoria’s Department of Health as to the duration of their self-quarantine period.

The only previous reported incidence of an AFL or AFLW player returning a positive COVID-19 test was former Essendon player Conor McKenna in June 2020.

The AFLW season is due to get underway on January 6.