AFLPA boss Paul Marsh wants the public to be patient with players as they handle COVID-19 rules. Image by Michael Dodge/AAP PHOTOS

Australian rules football

AFL boss outlines COVID-19 testing regime

2020-05-16 16:01:35

More than 1200 AFL players and officials have tested negative for COVID-19 as clubs prepare to resume training on Monday.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan has been receiving a daily log of test results to ensure the league operates under a strict set of health and safety measures ahead of games restarting on June 11.

Players face daily health checks and twice weekly COVID-19 tests, and their movement with the community outside football’s bubble will be limited.

“Over the last two months I’ve been getting updates every single day. I’ve got a log of anyone who checked in with a symptom that has been tested,” McLachlan told Fox Footy on Saturday.

“There’s over 1260 tests that have been done and they’re all negative.

“The players have unbelievably cooperative and demonstrated great leadership on this.”

McLachlan said it will be decided on a case-to-case basis what would happen if a positive coronavirus test eventuates in AFL ranks.

“Broadly that player will be sat out and anyone who has had close contact in the 24 or 48 hours leading up will determine anyone else who has to be stood down,” he said.

“Then it will be a question for the doctors about the scale and the implications.”

Meanwhile,  AFL Players’ Association chief Paul Marsh pleaded with the public not to conduct a “witch hunt” on footballers with the eyes of the nation on them.

Players or officials caught breaching restrictions will be charged under the AFL’s new “conduct unbecoming” rules and face stiff penalties.

“I just hope we don’t have a witch hunt trying to find players who may get things slightly wrong throughout this journey,” Marsh said.

The exact details of restrictions on players are still being negotiated between the AFL and AFLPA, but will be finalised in the coming days.

West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide players face even tighter restrictions as they restart the season in Gold Coast quarantine hubs.

But those clubs won’t have to travel outside of Queensland for at least the four weeks, fixtures boss Travis Auld confirmed.

They will play each other, as well as Brisbane and Gold Coast, at the Gabba and Metricon Stadium.

Games in Queensland could even be played back-to-back at the same venue.

“We do have the opportunity to have double-headers, given we haven’t got crowds,” Auld told SEN.

McLachlan said the unique nature of the 2020 season means this year’s premiership would be more than memorable.

“Whoever wins, they’re going to have had a different set of circumstances to clearly anything they’ve done before,” he said.

“(For) whoever wins the premiership this year, it’s going to be an amazing, amazing thing.”