The AFL may have to resort to a fixture first in order to keep the competition afloat amid Victoria’s COVID-19 lockdown.
Plus the Tigers’ latest travel plans after a Friday night boilover in Queensland.
Get all the latest AFL-related COVID-19 news in our live blog below.
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12.15PM – THREE CLUBS CAUGHT UP IN COVID WEB
Tom Morris reports…
Three clubs in Queensland have been caught up in the latest Covid-19 drama.
Foxfooty.com.au understands Essendon, North Melbourne and Sydney all have at least one staff member or player isolating in hard lockdown following visits to tier one sites in Victoria before they left the state.
It’s believed the Bombers have one player and two staff members, North Melbourne has one player who wasn‘t in the team for Round 18, and Sydney has four staff members.
The sites these people visited only became tier one sites after they jetted off to Queensland. They were re-graded by Victorian health officials.
The Western Bulldogs and GWS don’t have any players or staff in the same situation.
A St Kilda player attended the rugby in Melbourne on Tuesday night, but Simon Lethlean confirmed the player has since tested negative.
At this stage, none of the remaining three games at Metricon Stadium this weekend are in danger of being cancelled.
The players and staff who are isolating will need to do so for 14 days.
The Australian reported: “Melbourne and Olympic Parks, which manages AAMI Park, said the infected man who attended the rugby match had arrived at the stadium at 8.08pm via gate 7.
“He sat on level 1, aisle 21, on the western side of the venue in zone 2.
“Management said those who were seated on level 1 in aisles 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 had been classified as tier 2 contacts and must immediately isolate, get tested and stay isolated until they receive a negative result.”
But anyone who was listed as tier 1 close contacts must isolate for 14 days regardless.
10:30 AM – RD 19 FIXTURE HANGING BY A THREAD
The AFL is reportedly considering changing the match-ups for Round 19 amid Victoria’s latest COVID-19 lockdown, which would mark the first change of opponents in the fixture all season.
While the league has chopped and changed with the dates, times and venues of existing fixtures, it is yet to change the actual match-ups despite the continuous uncertainty generated by ever-shifting border restrictions.
Round 19 features six games scheduled for Victoria, which is hoping to escape its current snap lockdown on Tuesday at midnight.
“The Round 19 fixture looks even more complicated (than Round 18). AFL figures today tell me it was almost a nightmare to get this one going,” Herald Sun reporter Jon Ralph said on Fox Footy on Friday night.
“I understand for the first time the AFL‘s going to have to consider whether they need to change the scheduled games around.
“They‘ve always been able to play the fixture as is, maybe sometimes change the venues or the timeslots. I think they may have to swap around some opponents around to fit in with the closed borders; they might not be able to get some of those scheduled teams in just to play where they’d like them to.
“It‘s just an option at this stage but it’s absolutely one they’re considering. They’ve done an outstanding job not to have to cancel any games, but it may just be that’s the extent it has to get to try and get nine games around next weekend.”
CURRENT ROUND 19 FIXTURE (All times AEST)
Friday July 23
Port Adelaide vs Collingwood, Adelaide Oval, 7:15pm
Saturday July 24
Sydney Swans vs Fremantle, GMHBA Stadium, 1:45pm
Hawthorn vs Brisbane Lions, MCG, 2:10pm
Essendon vs GWS Giants, Marvel Stadium, 4:35pm
Gold Coast Suns vs Melbourne, TIO Stadium, 7:25pm
West Coast Eagles vs St Kilda, Optus Stadium, 7:40pm
Sunday July 25
Western Bulldogs vs Adelaide Crows, Mars Stadium, 12:40pm
Geelong Cats vs Richmond, MCG, 1:45pm
Carlton vs North Melbourne, Marvel Stadium, 4:40pm
10AM – TIGERS FORGE AHEAD DESPITE VIC CASE NUMBERS
Richmond still intends to fly back to Victoria this morning despite the state recording 19 new cases of COVID-19 in the second day of its five-day snap lockdown.
The Tigers defeated the Brisbane Lions in Queensland on Friday night, in a game that was relocated from Victoria during the week amid the state’s fifth lockdown.
All 19 of the state’s latest locally-acquired cases of COVID-19 are linked to existing outbreaks, while Richmond is scheduled to face Geelong at the MCG next Sunday.
The Tigers are still intending to fly back to Victoria today, but Dustin Martin won’t join them, remaining in hospital for assessment on a kidney injury.