'More manageable': AFL star pushes 'mini-hub' virus fix

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Pictured left, Melbourne's Tom McDonald likes the idea of mini hubs.
Melbourne's Tom McDonald has given his backing to the idea of mini quarantine hubs. Pic: Getty

As the uproar dies down over this week's quarantine hubs proposal, AFL Players’ Association (AFLPA) representative Tom McDonald has outlined a vision that he says would be much more appealing to players.

A worst-case scenario to restart and complete the premiership season was presented to players this week, sparking heated opposition from several high-profile stars.

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The idea that teams would be isolated in quarantine hubs away from their families and loved ones for 20 weeks didn't sit well with many players, particularly those with young children.

Leading players like Adelaide's Rory Sloane and North Melbourne's Todd Goldstein, expressed concerns about families being excluded.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire labelled the scenario of players being away from families for 20 weeks as "complete rubbish".

"That is not only a worst case scenario, that is a doomsday scenario," McGuire said.

AFLPA boss Paul Marsh did stress that it was merely a starting point for discussion when he delivered the AFL's season reboot plan to the playing group on Tuesday.

With debate ongoing about how the AFL could implement a quarantine system, Melbourne Demons gun McDonald has explained how a "mini-hub" system would be much more attractive, even to those with young children.

Using his club as an example, McDonald outlined how the Demons and another Victorian team could travel to Perth, where they would be safely quarantined.

Shorter periods away from families ‘more manageable’ for players

The playing group would only commute between Optus Stadium and the team hotel and undergo regular COVID-19 testing.

The two Victorian teams would play games against the two Perth-based teams, as well as each other, and staggered training in small groups would occur on non-game days.

“It’s how we did Round 1. We had private hotel rooms where we’d have our meals,” McDonald told Fox Sports News.

“It’s kind of a mini-hub and seemed quite safe at the time.”

The Victorian clubs would spend up to two weeks in Perth before returning home to their loved ones.

“I would personally support this idea. I’m sure the AFL would be considering it,” he said.

“Shorter times away would certainly be more manageable.”

The idea rests on the hope that state borders will be re-opened in coming weeks - a scenario that footy officials are quietly optimistic about.

McDonald says in hindsight that Tuesday's 'last resort' proposal - centred around players spending as many as 20 weeks away from families - completely blindsided players.

“It was put to us as – this is a way to get footy back – and it’s a last resort or a more dire scenario,” McDonald said.

“But it was definitely floated as being realistic, which is probably what caused the emotion in the group.

“Wow, this has really just hit us in the face and we haven’t heard anything of this previously, that was part of it, the shock of it.”

with AAP