Same day AFL travel doesn't faze Saints

Shayne Hope
Saints coach Brett Ratten is taking travel plans for his side's interstate AFL games in his stride

St Kilda coach Brett Ratten is not worried about the prospect of his side travelling to and from interstate matches on the same day when the AFL season restarts.

The league has flagged the plan as a way of keeping players and coaches out of hotels during the coronavirus pandemic.

It would involve teams flying into the venue cities on chartered flights on the morning of a match, playing a game and jumping straight back on the plane to return home.

Some clubs have raised concerns over compromised preparation for matches and the possibility of higher injury rates.

But Ratten, who played 255 matches in a stellar career with Carlton before turning to coaching, is unfazed.

"We did it when we played and it was alright," Ratten said.

"The AFL have done a fantastic job.

"It would've been an absolute nightmare to sit there and try to work out how it's going to work.

"They've done a fantastic job for us to get back and be playing in June and if it requires clubs to travel (and play) on the same day then so be it."

Many leading figures in the game are split on the issue but some players, including Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield, share Ratten's view.

"It's just another little challenge but it's not that bad," Ratten said.

"The only reason the travel was extended (to flying the day prior to matches) was maybe because if you couldn't actually get there and the planes were delayed.

"It was sort of to safeguard you from that, not from the performance point of view.

"So I don't think it will really change too much."

Ratten welcomed back St Kilda players to the club's Moorabbin headquarters for training this week and was pleased with their fitness levels.

The Saints have initially grouped similar player types together in training groups of eight but will make use of rules that allow them to rotate the training groups after COVID-19 testing.