Simpson open to early AFL training return

Shayne Hope and Anna Harrington
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AFL CATS EAGLES

While still players down through quarantine, coach Adam Simpson says the Eagles may look to train

As the AFL prepares to announce its plans to restart the 2020 season, West Coast coach Adam Simpson has hinted the Eagles could be prepared to begin training without their full list to help get the process underway.

The AFL is finalising its return-to-play plans this week, with an announcement on a 2020 season restart possible as early as Tuesday.

One key aspect under consideration is training protocols, after the 10 Victorian clubs were among the professional sporting organisations given special exemptions by their state government to operate at full capacity from Wednesday.

AFL clubs in NSW and Queensland are likely to be handed similar exemptions, in line with those given to their NRL counterparts.

But it is unclear where AFL clubs in Western Australia and South Australia stand on exemptions, with both states currently limiting all outdoor activities to groups of 10 people or less.

Complicating matters is West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide have players still serving mandatory quarantine periods after returning from other states.

Some of those are in quarantine until May 21, which could push back the AFL's plan for full training before a possible season restart next month.

But on Monday night, Simpson hinted the Eagles could be willing to begin training initially without their handful of players who are completing quarantine.

"(We've got) five players in quarantine and I think Fremantle have got 10," Simpson told Channel 7.

"So look, I think we'd be willing to waiver a couple of days so we could get going.

"There's no point shouting from the rooftop - we've just got to find out what the situation is and then once it gets declared we can work through it and throw the toys out of the cot later on."

For now, an AFL spokesperson said the league would maintain current competition-wide restrictions which limit players to training in pairs.

If WA and SA clubs are not granted permission by their state governments to train as full groups, they could be forced to temporarily relocate their operations in order to help recommence the AFL season.

On Monday, the Victorian government paved the way for the AFL clubs under its jurisdiction to operate at full capacity from Wednesday.

The caveat, under a ruling announced by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday, is that they must do so in exclusive facilities away from the general public.

"If they're using a training facility, an indoor gym for instance, or an outdoor area, it must be exclusively for them," Andrews said.

"This is about containment, it's about managing a risk and in the event that there is positive tests we're in a very strong position to be able to contact-trace and take whatever appropriate public health measures are deemed so.

"This is exclusively for those professional sports and they need to have control of the space they're in, and they need to listen to the advice of the chief health officer.

"It's been a very positive partnership, not just with footy (AFL) but with rugby league and other codes, and I'm confident that they understand that there are risks and they need to do everything they can to mitigate those."