AFL PLAYERS and officials have begun unprecedented mass testing for COVID-19 as a return to play edges closer.
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Essendon captain Dyson Heppell, Zach Merrett, Dylan Shiel and coach John Worsfold were among the first arrivals for swab testing at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday morning.
Richmond stars, including captain Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin and Tom Lynch, were among others to arrive mid-morning.
Every player and official in the competition will be tested before Friday in the hope of getting the green light to resume training as early as Monday.
"It was pretty quick, wasn't that fun but got it done," Essendon's Devon Smith said following the test.
"Hopefully we can get the results back (soon), everyone's cleared and then we can get back into it.
"Finally getting there, there's been a lot of setbacks and don't want to build it up too much but I'm pretty excited."
Although many social distancing measures have been eased by state governments, players and officials are set to operate under stricter guidelines in order to prevent the spread of the virus from the general public.
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"It is what it is. It's a short term sacrifice for us and if it gets the game going quicker then it's good," Smith said.
The nine Melbourne-based clubs will undergo testing at Marvel Stadium in allocated slots over the next three days. Clubs in Western Australian, South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Geelong will have separate stations.
All players are set to be briefed with plans for the AFL's restart by the AFL Players Association throughout Wednesday.