Dockers coach open to extended road trips

Justin Chadwick
·2-min read

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir says the Dockers are keen to explore the idea of extended road trips even once hub models are no longer needed in the AFL.

West Coast and Fremantle normally travel interstate every second week, but that scenario was thrown out the door this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fremantle were in a Gold Coast hub from rounds 2-6, and they finished the season with a four-game hub in Queensland.

Some games were played off as little as a five-day break.

West Coast had a similar schedule, with both clubs receiving an extended stretch of games at home during the middle of the season as compensation.

Even if hubs aren't needed next year, Longmuir wouldn't mind seeing his team travelling for up to four games at a time, and then receiving a similar stretch of matches back home in Perth.

"I don't think we'll go back to normal, and something like going away for two or three weeks and smashing out three or four games is something we'd have to look at going forward," Longmuir told 6PR.

"There's some scenarios where you might be coming off a five-day break playing a team off a seven or eight-day break, which wouldn't be overly fair, so we'd have to look at those sort of intricacies.

"But to be able to go away and play four games and then come home to play an extended period to match that, that's something we'll look at."

While hub life for most clubs was a struggle, Longmuir felt it worked well for himself and his youthful team.

"I actually enjoyed coaching in the hubs better than not being in the hubs," the first-year coach said.

"I felt like once we came home and we were in small training groups, the group became a bit disconnected, because it was really different being home and being under AFL protocols.

"We'd have six different small groups of guys training on the oval, but group one would be gone by the time group six started, so they'd never crossover.

"So it was really disjointed being out of the hub, and we wren't spending a lot of time together as a group."

Longmuir said the COVID-enforced staff cuts at all clubs had put extra pressure on the remaining employees, which would need to be managed.

"I think we have to be really cautious as a footy club and a footy industry that we don't burn people out," Longmuir said.

"We've got to make sure that we're a people first (approach), we look after the mental health of our people."