Geelong's Patrick Dangerfield (L) is wary of the AFL returning while Australia remains in lockdown. Image by Michael Dodge/AAP PHOTOS

Australian rules football

Dangerfield doubts AFL quarantine hub plan

2020-04-07 17:35:28

Patrick Dangerfield has questioned whether the AFL’s centralised hub plan is a realistic way of restarting the 2020 season.

The plan is one of at least 10 scenarios the league is looking at as it tries to emerge from the financially disastrous coronavirus shutdown.

It was reported on the league’s official website on Tuesday that AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has sent a memo to clubs which includes his intention to have a return-to-play strategy by the end of the month.

Under the hub plan, teams would be put in quarantined environments to play round-robin matches if government restrictions due to coronavirus are eased and football is cleared to resume in certain states.

But AFL Players’ Association president and Geelong superstar Dangerfield has serious doubts about whether the plans made public in recent days could work.

“How realistic that is, I think speculative at best,” Dangerfield told SEN on Tuesday.

“We’ve said we’ll do what we can as players.

“I think you’d find you’d have players that would be more than willing to do that and you’ll have some that would be vehemently opposed.

“I know these are desperate times but we’ve also got to be measured in our response to this.”

Dangerfield’s former Adelaide teammate Taylor Walker was also sceptical.

“I reckon if you went and had six teams in one hub, if the coronavirus did happen to get inside it would spread quite quickly and it’d get across six teams,” Walker told Triple M on Tuesday.

Dangerfield added it was important the AFL set the right example for the rest of the community.

“Round one was a good example of the angst that playing created,” he said. 

“To do something like that whilst everyone else is still in lockdown, there would need to be a huge amount of thought go into it.

“I’m not sure how comfortable I would be with it.”

Dangerfield said that as of Tuesday morning no formal plan around returning to action had been put to the Players’ Association.

“At some stage we all want to be back playing but it’s got to be the right time,” he said.

“I would assume that we would be consulted as a PA and really go through the intricacies of restarting the season.

“But my own personal view at the moment is we are a long way away from that.

“We’ve got to flatten the curve and really reduce it as best we possibly can.

“Then, and only then, once it becomes safe we think about restarting the season.”

Dangerfield said many players would find it “extremely difficult” to be isolated away from their families for extended periods to play football.

However, he also noted players felt a responsibility to clubs that are under huge financial pressure and staff who have been stood down as a result of cutbacks.