Aussie athletes slam AFL players over 'unfathomable' virus gripe

Riley Morgan
Sports Reporter
Former Aussie tennis star Sam Groth (pictured left) is one athlete to mock the AFL after reports senior players didn't approve of being away from support networks. (Getty Images)

Aussie tennis stars John Millman and Sam Groth have offered a sobering reality check to AFL players after reports senior stars are considering ‘boycotting’ the season.

AFL players remain concerned about being separated from loved ones if they are forced into quarantine hubs.

'I DON'T AGREE': Colleagues shoot down Kane Cornes' AFL push

'SCOURGE': Caroline Wilson blasts AFL boss over $10 million deal

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and his decision makers are weighing up multiple states as potential bases for training, accommodation and matches in hubs to restart the 2020 competition.

But while reports suggest some senior players are ready to ‘stand themselves down’, Australia’s tennis stars have offered a reality check about the demands of travel for other athletes.

“Imagine having to travel away from home, family and friends to get paid to play sport for an extended period of time, it’s unfathomable,” Groth said.

The former star was referring to the demands of tennis players to travel around the world to chase prize money, which could see them away from support networks for an extended period of time.

This is in comparison to AFL players who play out the season domestically.

Current World No.43 Millman replied to the tweet with laughing emojis.

Australian golfer Scott Hend chimed in, responding to Groth on Twitter.

"If u expect to get paid for a job u love then u will do whatever it takes to go and get it," Hend tweeted.

"Having a wage secured b4 u even play. Wow some people would give anything to have that option.

"Norhing (sic) is free in this world, do what u can to get rewarded."

Former Test cricketer Dean Jones shared his opinion on the stance on social media.

"Lucky they weren't cricketers!! We stayed overseas 3-4 months at times without families !" he tweeted.

Groth clarified his tweet and admitted he feels for the AFL cohort, but “extraordinary” times may call for extraordinary measures.

“I love my footy as much as anyone. I know, it’s hard being away from your support networks, from home, family, friends. It’s tough on your mental health, draining. I agree the players didn’t sign up for this, but these are extraordinary times. But they also wouldn’t be the first,” he wrote.

The AFL players found some support from fast-bowling legend Jason Gillespie who replied to Jones’ dig.

AFL hub not sitting well with senior players

AFL Players' Association boss Paul Marsh on Tuesday delivered the AFL's reboot plan to the playing group, with the "worst-case scenario" involving players staying in hubs for up to 20 weeks.

That would be split into two blocks, beginning with an eight-week period consisting of a compact training schedule followed by five weeks of matches.

Speaking to SEN Breakfast on Wednesday, Marsh stressed that was only a starting point in negotiations.

"The players want to do everything that they reasonably can to play but the world has shifted significantly here," he said.

"We're all of the understanding right now that the hubs are the only way we're realistically going to get the season started, given the border closures in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland.

"But there's a bit to work through in terms of the detail around all of it and we've just got to keep working through it.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan speaks to the media during an AFL press conference at AFL House on March 22, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

"There's a lot at stake here but there's also a lot of issues that the players fairly have."

Marsh said players' individual circumstances relating to families and loved ones were a priority for the AFLPA.

Many are hopeful they will be allowed to take their families into the hubs, and AFL Media has reported senior players have threatened to stand themselves down over the issue.

Adelaide's Rory Sloane, Steele Sidebottom of Collingwood and North Melbourne's Todd Goldstein are among the leading players who have publicly expressed concerns over their families' hub involvement in recent days.

However, the expected cost in doing so is a stumbling block for the AFL, which is already facing its biggest financial crisis because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The AFL's position is that they have an issue with bringing families in, but from our perspective it's a significant issue for the players with families," Marsh said.

"The AFL is well aware that that's an issue for us and we'll just need to keep working through it."

With AAP