The AFL has made adjustments to seven AFLW games in response to Western Australia’s updated Covid-affected border restrictions, with the Dockers and Eagles meeting in Round 1 before spending three weeks on the road.
It comes as the Gold Coast Suns’ preparation for their AFLW 2022 campaign hits a snag, with five players testing positive for Covid nearly a week before the team’s first game.
Omicron outbreaks across the country have forced the AFL and its clubs to act promptly to ensure the season begins next weekend.
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Fremantle and West Coast will remain in Perth in Round 1 but will instead face each other, instead of Adelaide (Dockers) and Brisbane (Eagles) respectively, in a western derby at Twilight at Fremantle Oval on Saturday 8 January. . It means the great final rematch. between the Ravens and the Lions will take place on Round 1 Sunday, giving Matthew Clarke’s team a chance for early redemption after Brisbane’s triumph as prime minister in 2021.
The Fremantle-Adelaide and West Coast-Brisbane games will now take place in Round 8, allowing both games to be played in WA as initially scheduled.
Both the Eagles and Dockers will fly to Melbourne for the second round home games. While Fremantle’s clash with the Giants had already moved to the Whitten Oval on Sunday, January 16, West Coast will now play the Suns in the same venue on the same day but four and a half hours earlier.
The Eagles will remain in Melbourne to face Adelaide in a Round 3 clash at Punt Road Oval on Saturday, January 22. Fremantle will then play an away game against Richmond at the same venue, a game that was part of the fixture’s initial release.
AFL women’s soccer manager Nicole Livingstone said match adjustments were necessary to provide greater certainty at the start of the season.
“While COVID-19 continues to impact our community, we will continue to make changes that better manage the current environment, advance our season, and protect the health and safety of those in our game and the community at large,” Livingstone said.
“We continue to work closely with each stakeholder to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone in the game. As we have done throughout the course of the pandemic, we will be guided and work closely with respective governments, all AFL clubs, and other key stakeholders, while ensuring that the health and safety of the community remain paramount. “
Meanwhile, Gold Coast confirmed on Friday that five of its AFLW players were in isolation at home after testing positive for COVID-19.
The club said that every member who has the virus is fully vaccinated and, at this stage, experiences little or no symptoms.
Gold Coast has 30 players on its AFLW roster and four on the inactive roster. An AFLW team needs 21 players to fill a side.
Despite the Covid scare, the Suns insist their Round 1 clash was never in doubt. They added that they were confident that the affected players would return to training sometime next week and that the rest of the team would continue to prepare for the match.
“The health and safety of all members of our programs remains the priority and the Club and its players have followed and will follow all guidelines established by the Government of QLD,” a statement from the Suns read.
“The remainder of the AFLW program will continue to prepare for the Round 1 game against the GWS Giants in Mackay on Sunday, January 9, and play will continue as planned.
“Subject to their continued progress through the required protocols, all five players will rejoin the AFLW program over the next week.”
AFLW’s sixth season kicks off next Friday, with St Kilda hosting Richmond under the spotlight at Frankston.
All AFLW home, away and final games, including the Grand Final, will be broadcast live on Fox Footy.