AFL CLUBS are aiming towards a return to training on May 18.
The best-case scenario hinges on the outcome of Friday's National Cabinet meeting where all states and territories are expected to ease restrictions and allow training in groups of up to 10.
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Already Western Australia and South Australia government rules allow that, however clubs in those states are awaiting the League-wide tick of approval before they're allowed to train in more than pairs.
With Victoria, where 10 of the 18 clubs are housed, likely to remove its state of emergency from Monday May 11, clubs are optimistic a move to training in groups of 10 will follow seven days later.
It comes after a competition-wide hook-up between clubs on Tuesday afternoon.
Players will require a minimum of three weeks training before a return to play which is now slated for mid-June.
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The AFL is still expected to announce a concrete date for the season resumption on May 11.
Clubs were told by the League in mid-to-late April not to rush their players back from interstate given many had returned home to families during the COVID-19 shutdown period.
However, that abruptly changed at the weekend with the League informing clubs to have players return as soon as possible given the looming ease of restrictions flagged by Prime Minister Scott Morrison off the back of last week's National Cabinet meeting.
It has left clubs in Queensland, WA and SA scratching their heads with rules governing a 14-day self-isolation period upon return to those states still in place.
Unless those restrictions are eased or exemptions are granted, it could mean the handful of players returning to clubs in those states this Tuesday or Wednesday may miss a potential return to training on May 18 given they would still be in two weeks of isolation.
While return travellers into Queensland are required to self-isolate for 14 days, the AFL has received an approval from the state's government for matches to be played in a controlled fly-in, fly-out environment.
WA clubs fear that if games return in June, the Dockers and Eagles may be at a disadvantage if the WA government maintains strict restrictions.
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"If there wasn't any change locally I think there's a risk that football may not be played here because of the 14-day quarantine," Dockers president Dale Alcock told 6PR.
"That could mean the WA clubs located over east to play, which I don't think anyone here wants to see and I don't think it'll assist in the performance of our local two teams.
"There's a lot of water to go under the bridge.
"I think we are going to see incremental relaxation and specific exemptions and I'd hope that we can find a level playing field."
Meanwhile, it is not only players interstate facing a rush back, with Irish players abroad currently working through various plans.
Essendon's Conor McKenna is expected to leave Ireland in the next 7-10 days and will be allowed back into Australian given he's a permanent resident.
The speedster would still be forced to self-isolate for 14 days when he lands in ahead of what could be his last season in red and black.
However, six other players on visas are awaiting further guidance as their individual clubs and the AFLPA work through plans with government bodies.
They are Collingwood's Anton Tohill and Mark Keane, Brisbane's James Madden, Greater Western Sydney's Callum Brown and Bombers pair Ross McQuillan and Cian McBride.