CLUBS have been reminded of the risks of players travelling interstate before the season starts, with the AFL telling them to be acutely aware of snap border closures.
Football managers met with the League on Tuesday, with the AFL expressing the need to head into the 2021 season with an open mind and the likelihood of extra flexibility due to COVID-19 disruptions.
The clubs have relayed to their players they should be extra conscious about heading interstate for short-term visits ahead of the home and away season as state governments continue to make quick decisions on restricting movement if coronavirus cases emerge.
Although not a directive to not travel, the AFL and its clubs have a heightened understanding that a player could be locked out from his club at short notice or face extra time quarantining if visiting family or friends interstate.
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A number of West Coast players, including star midfielder Andrew Gaff, faced delayed starts to the pre-season after returning to Perth from Victoria, where an outbreak of COVID-19 had hit the state over the Christmas break.
Out of the house and onto the track.https://t.co/UmBuf0T5r3— West Coast Eagles (@WestCoastEagles) January 14, 2021
The players were forced to isolate for 14 days under West Australian rules with exemptions to train away from the main Eagles group.
Some clubs have held over their mandated Collective Bargaining Agreement four-day break for February, with a number of clubs giving it to their players in late January.
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The AFL also stressed to football managers that there needs to be an expectation of flexibility in regards to this year's fixture, and that the League will have the welfare of players and staff front of mind as it works through what shapes as another impacted year, with COVID-19 already forcing changes to the AFLW competition in its opening fortnight.
After agreeing to live in the AFL 'bubble' last year which included COVID-19 tests up to twice a week, players are currently following the community guidelines in their respective states without extra restrictions.