COVID-19 sidelines Nicks, Simpson, Saints

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The AFL is battling a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections, with senior coaches Matthew Nicks and Adam Simpson among those forced into isolation.

Eight West Coast players and three members of St Kilda's football department are also out of action because of the virus.

The news comes a day after Fremantle's outbreak grew to six players.

Adelaide assistant coach Scott Burns will take over from Nicks for Sunday's away game against Carlton.

Former Essendon senior coach Matthew Knights will return to the top role in Simpson's place for the Saturday night match against Brisbane at the 'Gabba.

Assistants have a 6-0 record this season when senior coaches have been ruled out because of the virus.

The AFL has also given West Coast until Friday to finalise their team.

Knights confirmed at least two top-up players will feature in West Coast's 22 so that the club can field a full team.

It marks the second time the Eagles have been forced to turn to the drastic measures after using five top-up players in their 15-point loss to North Melbourne in round two.

They are the only club to have dipped into their top-up list.

Angus Schumacher, Declan Mountford, Jake Florenca and Logan Young are the top-up players who will fly to Brisbane as part of the 26-man travelling party.

Captain Luke Shuey (hamstring), Willie Rioli (hamstring), and Xavier O'Neill (knee) have been forced out through injury, but Tom Barrass (hamstring) returns.

Some experts believe games shouldn't go ahead if a team is decimated by COVID-19, but Knights doesn't have any qualms.

"The AFL have stated that that's the way they will go right from the beginning. We've just got to deal with it," Knights said.

"Twenty-three young men get the chance to play AFL and show what they've got. I love that as a coach.

"It's different circumstances, it's quite unique. I've never seen anything like this. But we're good to go.

"It's close to only five or six players on our list who haven't had COVID up until this point. It's nearly gone through the entire playing group."

Knights is unsure what role Simpson will play on game day.

"The only thing I've done with Simmo is have two to three discussions about the team this morning and the process over the next 24-48 hours," he said.

"He was a bit raspy yesterday afternoon. We had a full day here yesterday, we had a meeting that went til about 4.30.

"He's doing fine, he's chatting about footy."

Also on Thursday, Saints coach Brett Ratten said the virus had sidelined assistant coach Brendon Lade who filled in for him last month.

High performance staffers Nick Walsh and Marcus Krygger are also out of action for Sunday's game against Melbourne, but assistant coach Corey Enright will be back after he was sidelined.

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