THERE have been tough decisions made around the competition in recent weeks as clubs have been forced to make decisions on which staff return as the season restart approaches.
Under the AFL's set of rules after the COVID-19 outbreak, the League has placed limits on expenditure as well as a maximum of 25 staff who can be in physical contact with players and attend the training facility.
The AFL mandates that the group of 25 must include a doctor, psychologist, player development manager and compliance manager, with the rest of the roles at clubs' discretion.
DRAMATIC CUTS What the 25-person footy department might look like
Development assistants and coaches associated with second-tier competitions have been worst hit by the decisions taken by clubs, who have had to keep staff stood down as they prepare for the resumption of games with smaller teams.
While some clubs are hopeful of bringing more staff back as the season gets underway, here are the changes for each club's respective coaching groups after squads returned to training this week.
The Crows will be without forwards coach Ben Hart for the first two games back as he serves his ban for his involvement in the club's social distancing breach in the Barossa Valley. His role will be replaced by Matthew Clarke for a fortnight. Defensive coach Marty Mattner has accepted compensation to move on from the club and will be replaced by development coach Brent Reilly, while development coach Paul Thomas also departed last month.
The Lions' senior coaching group has remained intact through this period, and the club has redeployed Mitch Hahn, who is the club's NEAFL coach, to be a compliance officer to ensure the Lions meet the COVID-19 protocols. The club's Academy program has been paused in light of the game's shutdown.
The Blues made swift changes to their coaching structure as COVID-19 hit. Part-time specialist coaches Greg Williams, Saverio Rocca and Hamish McIntosh lost their roles, while Josh Fraser, the club's VFL coach, was made redundant as part of their move away from the Northern Blues. Development coach Jason Davenport remains stood down, while director of coaching Henry Playfair is back working remotely.
With the future of the VFL unclear, former Cats great Garry Hocking, who coaches the Pies' state league side, has been kept stood down. The other change in Collingwood's coaching structure is with the experienced Brad Gotch, who is also in the stood down group. Gotch has an overarching coaching role across the club's AFL, VFL, AFLW and netball programs.
The shutdown of the VFL program has led to the two changes within Essendon's coaching group. Mark Corrigan, who is the Bombers' VFL coach and a former development coach with the club, and the team's manager Luke Ball, who was hands-on with the senior group at stages, remain stood down.
The Dockers are awaiting further guidance from the AFL before they lock in their travelling party for their stint in the Gold Coast hub. As it stands, stoppages and structures coach Anthony Rock and defensive development coach Roger Hayden are continuing remotely.
The Cats have been able to welcome back their entire coaching panel for the season restart with many still juggling reduced days and reduced pay. Given the Cats had a lean coaching team to begin with this season, they were able to avoid standing down any members of their team for the immediate future.
The Suns are down three coaches ahead of the resumption of games. Development assistants Andrew Swallow, Ash Prescott and Nick Malceski, who also coaches the club's NEAFL side, have not yet been brought back as part of the group to prepare for the season's restart.
Alan McConnell, one of the Giants' original assistant coaches and currently the club's AFLW coach and director of coaching, is one of two staffers on the panel not back with the Giants. The other is development coach Jason Saddington, who also steers Greater Western Sydney's NEAFL line-up and has worked closely with its Academy.
Former Richmond and Greater Western Sydney star Brett Deledio headlines a number of development coaches who have been stood down at Waverley Park. Premiership Hawk Max Bailey, who is also doubles as the Box Hill VFL coach, is among them, while ruck and bench coach Damian Monkhorst hasn't re-joined for now. The Hawks have retained all of their line coaches for the season restart.
The Dees will be without development coach and former Geelong tough-nut Max Rooke for the resumption of the season, while former Dogs and Demons midfielder Daniel Cross, who is now a member of the club's fitness staff, is also still in the group away from the club at this stage.
Line coaches Jared Rivers (defence) and Brendan Whitecross (forwards) remain stood down along with Academy coach Michael Firrito and ruck coach Will Minson. Senior coach Rhyce Shaw said this week the call was made to assist the club in the immediate term. It has left head of development Gavin Brown, defensive development coach Heath Scotland and senior assistant Jade Rawling to spread their responsibilities.
SANFL coach Matthew Lokan has become the club's enforced COVID-19 officer with his Magpies not taking part in the state league competition this year. All of the line coaches have returned this week, while development coach Scott Thompson departed the club last month along with two members of the fitness department. Part-time ruck coach and Power premiership big man Dean Brogan wasn't included in the initial cap of 25.
The Tigers confirmed all of their coaches have returned to Punt Road this week, meaning two-time premiership coach Damien Hardwick has retained his group as he searches for another flag. Veteran administrator Neil Balme will have a role away from matchday.
Development coach Jake Batchelor, who played 84 game with Richmond, remains on stand down, while NRL champion Billy Slater, who is involved with the Saints' leadership and development programs, has a scaled back role. He won't have face-to-face contact with the players, however he held a session via Zoom this week.
Midfield assistant Tadhg Kennelly remained on stand down when the Swans returned to training on Monday, meaning Jarrad McVeigh will take full responsibility of the midfield for the season resumption. Opposition analyst Stuart Maxfield and NEAFL and Team Swans manager Craig Holden are in the same position.
The Eagles are still working through their plans for their coaching structure that heads to the Gold Coast for their hub period under premiership coach Adam Simpson.
In a surprising move, the Dogs have decided to stand down both midfield coaches for the season restart. Midfield line coach Jordan Russell and stoppages and set plays coach Joel Corey didn't rejoin the Dogs at training this week. It's expected senior coach Steven King will assume much of the responsibility. Development coach and premiership hero Dale Morris also remains away from the club.