13.2 C
Newcastle
Sunday, July 25, 2021

Exiled Sydney AFL clubs in holding pattern

Sydney’s escalating COVID-19 woes have cast further doubt on when the city’s two AFL clubs will return home, with Swans coach John Longmire urging his players to ignore what-ifs ahead of a crunch clash with Western Bulldogs.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has tightened restrictions while flagging that lockdown could extend beyond next Friday after Sydney’s biggest spike in new cases since the start of the current outbreak.

The Swans and GWS were slated to square off at Giants Stadium next weekend.

The derby remains the only round-18 match that is yet to be assigned a venue, with the league trying to map out both clubs’ movements in coming weeks.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan told players in June that hubs were a last resort, noting he envisaged “two, three weeks (away from home), max”.

That time frame will soon be exceeded for the Swans and Giants.

The league has made it clear it wants to reunite players and staff with families but, as the NRL mulls whether to relocate Sydney-based clubs out of the NSW capital, it is hard to envisage how that will happen in the short term.

“Take it day by day. That’s all we can do, things change so quickly,” Longmire told reporters.

“We’re focusing on our footy and trying to make sure that families and loved ones back in Sydney are supported as much as they can be.

“You have to be really mindful in these situations that you don’t spend all your time thinking about the what-ifs. You can spend a lot of energy on that.

“We trust the club and AFL are doing all they can to come up with solutions to get us home first and foremost, but also support our families and loved ones back home.”

Some players and staff were unable to bid goodbye to families in person, such was the haste at which they had to rush to a Melbourne-bound charter flight.

The Giants are slated to face Essendon, Port Adelaide, Geelong, Richmond and Carlton beyond the derby, while the Swans finish their regular season with matches against Fremantle, Essendon, St Kilda, North Melbourne and Gold Coast.

The Dockers-Swans clash looms as a particularly big stumbling block for the AFL and its desire to reunite players with families, given Western Australia’s border policy.

Longmire admitted that fixturing uncertainty made it harder to map out management plans for players, adding “we just have to roll with it”.

The Swans trained at Essendon’s base on Friday, extending their nomadic stretch in Melbourne.

“We’re fortunate the Victorian clubs have been great in allowing us access to facilities,” Longmire said.

AAP

Read more:

Newcastle Weekly
Newcastle Weekly
Newcastle Weekly Logo

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news straight to your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!