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Long hub stints a last resort for AFL

The AFL is adamant extended hub stints are a “last-term resort” for the competition this year despite the possibility Victoria’s current lockdown will be extended.

Players on Tuesday night received an email from the AFL Players Association, in which they were promised clubs will not be sent on the road for more than three weeks at a time.

The email came after multiple players voiced their concerns through the media over the possibility of longer hub stints, as were required to complete the 2020 season.

“At this stage, the AFL has confirmed to the AFLPA and clubs that a period of no more than three weeks away at any given time will be required, and that not all clubs will necessarily need to be away for that length of time, if at all,” the email read.

The email included a video message from Gillon McLachlan, in which the AFL chief executive attempted to reassure players they will not be sent on extended road trips.

“I want to say specifically that we are not envisaging hubs,” McLachlan said.

“They are a last-term resort.

“We think we can navigate through the next few weeks with surges here and there – one, two, three weeks max – and we’ll get you back.

“Please don’t think hubs are on the near-term agenda, because they’re not.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty, and they are our last resort, and I just want you guys to know that.”

Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt, who has a young family, is one of several players who have publicly voiced their concerns about the possibility of a second-straight year of long hub stints.

Some players have reportedly indicated they would return home to their families rather than be away for extended periods with their teams.

“You’ve been in the position before where you’re told you’re going away for 30 days and you end up being away for 120,” Riewoldt told Fox Footy’s AFL 360 on Tuesday night.

“It’s only natural that those feelings and emotions pop up again.

“My main priority is still my family and it’s hard to leave a two-and-a-half year old and a five-month-old at home being just looked after by their mother.

“Hopefully for everybody’s sake – and not just footy – we can get the COVID situation under control in Victoria.”

There will be no AFL matches played in Victoria this weekend after the league was forced to rearrange the fixture to work within various state government travel restrictions.

South Australia’s police commissioner has indicated Collingwood will be given a travel exemption to fly in and out of Adelaide on Saturday for their clash with the Crows.

However, SA Health – the body that makes the decision – is yet to confirm the exemption.

Friday night’s Melbourne-Brisbane blockbuster has been moved from Alice Springs to Sydney’s Giants Stadium.

St Kilda-Sydney and Carlton-West Coast have been moved from Melbourne to the SCG, while the Essendon-Richmond Dreamtime clash will be played at Perth’s Optus Stadium.

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