The Sydney Swans are dealing with a Covid-19 outbreak after multiple players and officials tested positive in what is the biggest outbreak to hit an AFL club.
As NSW broke a national record with 3057 new cases on Tuesday, the Swans confirmed multiple members of their football department had tested positive for Covid-19 while on leave.
“The Sydney Swans can confirm some members of the football department, including players, have tested positive for Covid-19 during their leave period,” the club said in a statement.
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“All affected players and staff are double vaccinated and all report to be in good health.
“The club’s primary concern is for the health and safety of all players, staff and their families.
“All positive cases are adhering to relevant State Government health directives.
“All members of the football program returned negative Covid tests before their final training session of the year on Wednesday, December 15, in line with AFL protocols that includes weekly PCR testing, as well as regular rapid antigen testing.
“Football department staff and players are due to return from leave on Thursday January 6, 2022.”
Players reportedly attended a boat party on Sydney harbour last week after wrapping up their pre-Christmas training.
According to Channel 7, "at least 10" players have tested positive.
“The Swans are scrambling with a major Covid outbreak sweeping through their playing group, more than 10 players testing positive in recent days,” reporter Mitch Cleary said on Tuesday night.
"Swans players enjoyed a boat cruise late last week as they finished pre-Christmas training.
“All players are vaccinated but it will provide a setback to their new year return.
“This latest example the biggest outbreak at an AFL club yet and likely to give the AFL new considerations to their 2022 Covid plans after declaring in recent weeks they would try and push on amid outbreaks.”
— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) December 21, 2021
Sydney Swans outbreak to affect AFL's Covid plans?
Players are due to return to training on January 6, meaning the practical impact of the cases is likely to be relatively small compared to if it occurred mid-season.
But the size of the outbreak could force the AFL to re-think its Covid-19 plans and protocols for players and club staff ahead of the 2022 season, which begins in March.
Earlier this month, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said the league would continue in the case of Covid outbreaks during the season.
“It’s evolving, and we keep talking to the states and the health officials and they will continue to change,” McLachlan said.
“Broadly speaking, we’ll work with the state by state rules and we’re going to play on.
“The protocols are slightly different this week to what they were last week and they’ll keep changing, but broadly we’re going to keep playing.”
Meanwhile, the Canberra Raiders are believed to have also learned of further cases within their NRL group, after two staff members tested positive last week forcing their entire squad to isolate.
The Raiders will not comment on the current number of cases, but will monitor and assess their situation before returning to training on January 5.
Fellow NRL clubs Newcastle, Wests Tigers and South Sydney have also had pre-season training disrupted in recent weeks because of Covid-19 cases.
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