AFL clubs set for extended road trips this season

Collingwood and Geelong are set to spend more than three weeks on the road from July, with more matches likely to be played in other states after they complete their stint in Western Australia.

AFL fixtures boss Travis Auld says all clubs face the prospect of spending four or five weeks away from home at some stage this season, similar to the time WA clubs West Coast and Fremantle will serve in Queensland.

It comes as the AFL grapples with reworking its fixture on the run due to the Queensland Government announcing fresh coronavirus protocols that have forced an immediate reshuffle of this week’s matches.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall threw a further spanner in the works when he reversed his decision to open the state border with Victoria on July 20, a decision he conceded would have a “dramatic effect on the AFL”.

“Any teams coming in from Victoria to South Australia will have to do that two weeks of isolation,” he said.

“Any South Australian team that plays a Victorian team or goes to Victoria to play a Victorian team will have to do that two weeks of isolation on return to our state.”

The Magpies and Cats had been set to play each other while in quarantine in Perth in round seven and rotate matches against West Coast and Fremantle before returning home.

But Auld indicated their road trips would likely be extended.

“If the quarantine conditions work for [clubs] then I think that four to five-week period seems like it works OK,” Auld told 3AW.

“It may not be, under these circumstances, four to five weeks in the same place.

An AFL coach gives his players instructions in a preliminary final at the MCG.

An AFL coach gives his players instructions in a preliminary final at the MCG.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said his team would have to roll with the punches.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

“If you look at Geelong and Collingwood, for example, they’ll go to WA for three weeks and they may come back [to Victoria] via one of the other states now.

“They could come back via New South Wales or Queensland. We’ve got that option that we need to explore.”

Geelong coach Chris Scott said his club was prepared for a chaotic schedule.

“We’ve just got to roll with the punches,” Scott told AFL 360.

“If this is the price we need to pay to keep the competition alive, I think we’re all willing to pay it.”

Auld also indicated other Victorian clubs could be sent to Queensland in the near future under similar conditions to the two clubs being sent to WA.

A number of Eagles players look dejected as they walk off the field after losing to Brisbane.

A number of Eagles players look dejected as they walk off the field after losing to Brisbane.

West Coast have endured a torrid time in the Queensland hub, but other teams may have to share their pain.(AAP: Darren England)

Clubs could also be sent for multiple matches in South Australia if the state’s borders open as planned in July, while temporary hubs remain a possibility in NSW and other regions.

Victorian clubs could potentially cycle through those hubs to keep the season alive.

Auld said clubs and broadcasters wanted two weeks’ notice for fixtures, and crowds returning in some states also presented a challenge.

“As that starts to come into play, that’s a factor we need to take into account in terms of giving fans enough notice to get a ticket to get to games,” Auld said.

“The complexity continues but certainly the flexibility is really important for us at the moment.”

AAP