AFL clubs requiring top-up talent to cover for players sidelined with COVID-19 or identified as close contacts in 2022 may be forced to choose from a designated pool. 

The proposal is one of many being thrashed out by the AFL and its clubs in the lead-up to the season-opener on March 16 and could result in a situation where a player is chosen by one club one weekend, and other clubs thereafter.


The pool would be sourced from state leagues Australia-wide and players with AFL experience would seemingly be best-placed to fill the positions due to the gulf between the elite level and all competitions beneath it.

The AFL has made it clear to clubs it will be seeking them to "play on" through even extreme absences due to COVID-19 infections. It is yet to mandate on the number of listed players each club must have available before being able to access top-up talent.

A designated pool of players to cover unavailable listed players is seen to be a fairer option than other scenarios, as there is great discrepancy in talent depth in the alliances each AFL club has with its state league operations.

It is believed the AFL is also considering taking its own position on a designated time a COVID-infected player is required to be stood down from playing and training. There is a strong hope at club level that the timeframe could be as few as five days, but there is an understanding that a ruling on that aspect of the AFL's 2022 COVID-19 protocols would be determined by health authorities.