WEST Coast forward Jack Darling will train away from the club and his teammates after failing to fulfil the requirements of the AFL's COVID-19 protocols.
Under the AFL's policy, all players and football staff at the two WA clubs must have had their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by January 21 to be able to continue attending club facilities.
NO JAB, NO PLAY AFL releases COVID-19 vaccination policy
South Australian and Queensland clubs were subject to the same cut-off, following deadlines that have already passed in Victoria and New South Wales since the policy was released in October.
After the deadline came into effect on Friday morning, the Eagles released a statement revealing that Darling had not fulfilled his obligations and would train away from the rest of the squad while he "assesses his future".
"The club will continue to support Jack as he contemplates his options and is optimistic that he will return to build on his outstanding career to date," the club said.
"While the club does respect the right to personal choice it also supports the protocols put in place by the AFL and Governments – both Federal and State – as they navigate their way through this persistent and challenging pandemic."
Darling released his own statement on Friday afternoon on social media declaring his absence from training had been due to doctor's orders and the Eagles had been provided with a medical certificate.
The star forward had been training with the main group as recently as Wednesday.
Darling's situation comes after Carlton defender Liam Jones announced his retirement in November, in a decision that was understood to be related to the AFL's COVID-19 vaccination policy.
The AFL's deadline for WA-based players receiving a second vaccination is February 18, while Darling will also be subject to the state's proof of vaccination requirements from January 31.
While optimistic he will return, West Coast can now determine if it will take any action with respect to Darling's remuneration and employment status under the policy.
The Eagles can transfer Darling to the inactive list and pay him the minimum base salary under the players' collective bargaining agreement, or keep him on the list and pay him not less 25 per cent of the minimum base salary.
The club can also terminate Darling's contract with his agreement or, from May 18 this year, exercise any legal rights it may have to terminate his contract.
Darling is contracted to the end of 2025 on a lucrative deal signed halfway through a career-best 2019 season, which ended with selection in the Therabody AFL All-Australian team.
West Coast has one vacant list spot and expects to have a second once it has finalised retired defender Brad Sheppard's departure.
Claremont product Logan Young, former Fremantle ruckman Luke Strnadica and former Brisbane midfielder Tom Joyce are all training with the club in the hope of winning a list spot during the Supplementary Selection Period.
West Coast can also hold a list spot open for the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft.
The Eagles held on to champion pair Shannon Hurn and Josh Kennedy for the 2022 season in a move that now appears wise, given Sheppard and Darling's respective situations.
Darling's loss is significant, however, after he led the club's goalkicking in 2021, as well as 2019, 2018 and 2012.
A premiership player in 2018, the durable forward played all 22 games last season and kicked multiple goals on 12 occasions, including two bags of five, leading the Eagles for contested marks (2.0 a game) and goals (42).
Meanwhile, Brisbane has moved Cam Ellis-Yolmen to its inactive list after he failed to meet the AFL's COVID-19 protocols.
Brisbane released a statement on Friday revealing he made an unsuccessful submission to the AFL for an exemption.