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AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan calls on clubs to lift their COVID discipline if they want to contend

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says staying COVID-safe is just another area where clubs must be disciplined if they want to win a premiership.

The league is insistent it will continue to push through surging case numbers and won’t postpone even finals should a team be wiped out with a number of absences through health and safety protocols.

While a return to ‘bubbles’ and mandating other stricter procedures seems off the cards, McLachlan suggested clubs would take it upon themselves to minimise the risk if they wanted to contend at the back-end of the year.

“It feels there’s another surge going on now and we all know the steps we can do to protect ourselves, and I know the clubs know that and the players know that,” he told the Seven Network.

“It’s individual responsibility … the players need to live their lives but we all know this is a discipline and resilience competition.

“The most disciplined clubs are going to have the most players available and I think everyone understands that and I know the players do.”

Brisbane lost five players for their round 17 clash with Essendon and their club was locked down the following week, highlighting the impact the virus could have on teams potentially in finals.

Geelong coach Chris Scott admitted COVID-19 avoidance was “towards the front of the queue” of his club’s thinking.

“The AFL have given us some advice, at-the-margin type stuff like, which actually helps us,” he told Fox Sports.

“The AFL suggests we don’t have superfluous people in the rooms pre-game or post-game, it’s easy to say no when that advice has come from the AFL.

“We’ve got a responsibility to the community as well to lead and so what we’re saying to our players is you’ve got to take this seriously … 25-year-olds getting really sick at the moment who are vaccinated, it’s unlikely that’s going to be the problem, but the contagion is a problem.

Scott said teams would have to be ready for the challenges the virus could throw up and not be rattled when that happens.

“It’s very real for us, we could have no symptoms be COVID positive and not be able to play or not be able to coach,” he said.

“You’ve just got to accept that some curve balls will be thrown your way and then it’s a matter of not overreacting when they inevitably come.”

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