Lets play ball.
Lets play ball.

AFL players vote for season to go ahead as planned

AFL players have had their say as the coronavirus epidemic grips the sporting world.

With the 2020 season just days away, every player had a vote on if the season would kick off on Thursday night as originally planned.

After AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan announced a shortened season as the league deals with the tumultuous time, a majority of players voted to go ahead with the season instead of postponing the games.

"By the fact that a majority of the players have voted yes, they obviously feel they can trust the high-ranking medical official, who spoke for about 20-25 minutes to the players," Tom Morris said on AFL 360.

"Now there is a sense at some clubs … a few players around the league are a bit nervous and feel a bit uneasy.

"One player said to me tonight although he doesn't feel like it's unsafe to play footy this weekend, he feels a bit uneasy playing in this environment. So there are a lot of factors going into this other than that it may be unhealthy to play at some stage."

 

Clubs have been locking fans out.
Clubs have been locking fans out.

AFL great Jonathan Brown said provided it was a safe environment and the players wanted to get out and play, let them play.

"You might not get all the players on record telling you they want to play, because there is a part of you that doesn't want to sound irresponsible," Brown said.

"The fact is, if you interviewed 95 per cent of the players they are desperate to play. Last thing they want is for the league to come along and say 'you're not playing for a month'."

Lyon questioned if there was a player brave enough among the current crop who would be "brave enough" to stand up and tell the league "I'm not playing".

"That's ok if someone does, we're not going to judge that player. If you feel like it's an unsafe environment or you're put in an unnecessary risk, you could have a sick mother that you're in contact with all the time and you don't want to risk giving the infection to the football club and taking it home, so be it we shouldn't judge that. If the players want to play, let them play."

The 2020 AFL season is scheduled to get underway on Thursday night when Richmond and Carlton lock horns.

Both coaches spoke about the ongoing crisis and said despite the lingering fears, they're hopeful the season goes ahead.

Dusty will be roaming around the MCG after the player vote.
Dusty will be roaming around the MCG after the player vote.

"I think from my perspective and our team's perspective, I'd love for it to go ahead. I know the situation and the broader role we have to play in that. But I think it'll be great to get up and going and get the season started," Damien Hardwick told AFL 360.

"Our players have done a hell of a lot of work and we understand the reason and the broader risks to the greater community and the health and wellbeing of our players. But we'd love to play.

Hardwick later added: "The great thing about the AFL environment is our ability to accept. We understand the season is going to be compromised in some way, but what we do is we play our part and we're prepared to put on the season and give it our best shot.

"We'll do whatever we can to do our part and get this show on the road."

Carlton coach David Teague said his playing group was in the same boat as Richmond players and were looking forward to the season opener.

"You do a lot of pre-season and these guys have put a lot of work in, so they've been looking forward to this moment. My gut feeling is most of them are really keen to get out there and play this weekend," Teague said.

Teague said he didn't believe his players feared running out onto the MCG Thursday night.

"I know there's a lot of information going around at the moment. To be honest, I think the players are taking that in," he said.

"The uncertainty and the fact it's changing, there maybe some players that do have some doubts and some thoughts about it. But none of that has come forward in our groups - and we've given them the opportunity to speak up.

"We're preparing to play Thursday night. If it changes it changes and whenever the next game is - if we do play Thursday - we'll just need to make sure we're ready. But everyone's going to be in the same boat."


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