AFL bullish on season after hub success

Jason Phelan
AFL fixturing chief Travis Auld is adamant the shortened season will be completed

AFL fixturing chief Travis Auld has vowed to deliver on the league's promise of a 17-round season where every team plays each other once.

Faced with a worsening COVID-19 outlook in Victoria, the AFL confirmed on Wednesday, when the round-six fixtures were released, that Collingwood and Geelong will set up camp in a Perth hub from round seven

The league also revealed that at least two more teams will join the WA hub when the Pies and Cats depart after a three-week block of games involving hub-mates Fremantle and West Coast at Optus Stadium.

Restrictions on large gatherings will be lifted in WA from July 18, allowing up to 60,000 fans to fill the venue.

The league is working out the finer details of the Perth hub with the WA government before an expected release of the round seven fixture on Thursday or Friday.

The coronavirus curveballs will keep coming at Auld but he won't hear of a scenario where the season doesn't meet the stated aim for every team to play each other once.

"We have to find a way to make that happen," Auld told Fox Footy.

"Don't ask me how that happens just at the moment, it is one week at a time, but the jigsaw puzzle needs to be completed by the end of the season.

"There is a commitment for those 17 rounds and for each team to play every other team - we'll get there.

"I'm confident we'll make it through (but) exactly what the end looks like? I'm not sure."

Auld also needs to squeeze in the Essendon-Melbourne game that was postponed when Bomber Conor McKenna tested positive for coronavirus.

He didn't rule out the creation of another hub at a to-be-determined location should the league feel the pinch later in the season when time and the logistics of getting the right match-ups come to a head.

But for now, the Perth hub looks set to kick the AFL season up several notches, even if West Coast and Fremantle have to spend a week longer than they had bargained for in the Gold Coast hub.

The Eagles will play Adelaide at the Gabba in round six on Saturday, July 11, with the Dockers to take on Melbourne at Metricon Stadium on the same day.

Both WA clubs will then fly home, with the Magpies and Cats to join them in a 14-day isolation period.

Geelong will play St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on Thursday, July 9, and Collingwood will host Brisbane the next evening at the MCG to allow the teams as much time as possible to get to Perth to begin their quarantine.

ROUND SIX OF THE AFL SEASON

Thursday, July 9

St Kilda v Geelong, Marvel Stadium, 7.40pm AEST

Friday, July 10

Collingwood v Brisbane, MCG, 7.50pm AEST

Saturday, July 11

Fremantle v Melbourne, Metricon Stadium, 1.05pm AEST

West Coast v Adelaide, Gabba, 3.35pm AEST

Essendon v Western Bulldogs, Marvel Stadium, 7.40pm AEST

Hawthorn v Gold Coast, MCG, 7.40pm AEST

Sunday, July 12

Port Adelaide v GWS, Metricon Stadium, 1.05pm AEST

Carlton v Sydney, MCG, 3.35pm AEST

North Melbourne v Richmond, Marvel Stadium, 6.10pm AEST