A concession from the AFL that the fixture will be a “week by week”proposition has left Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge fearing more time on the road than expected.
The AFL confirmed the Round 12 fixture, which will include three games in Sydney, two in Perth and one in Adelaide, late on Tuesday night.
It means the Bulldogs, who evacuated Melbourne on the weekend amid the latest Covid outbreak and flew to Sydney, will travel to Perth to play Fremantle.
But Beveridge, who has said the players feel “a bit institutionalised” and has advocated for the league to consider the mental well being of all players in any decisions, doesn’t believe his team will be coming home after their clash with the Dockers on Sunday.
“No, we haven’t got that guarantee (to return to Melbourne),” Beveridge said on SEN’s Whateley.
“We take some solace in the fact that the Hawks have gone on a bit of a break and come home (from Sydney), and we just hope that happens.”
Beveridge: "Most of us feel a bit institutionalised… at this point in time the Victorian public are feeling that (too).
"Why wouldn't we dot our is and cross our ts, when the fallout from an economic perspective is so much more than the initial investment of getting it right?"
The Bulldogs, are scheduled to have a bye following the clash with the Dockers before, going by the current fixture, playing Geelong in Geelong and then West Coast back in Perth.
It’s that second clash which has Beveridge “suspicions” the AFL could alter the fixture again.
“We have got Geelong and then West Coast (in rounds 13 and 14), and everybody has got this sort of suspicious feeling that maybe the games – if they can do it – can be moved forward and we stay in Perth and play West Coast the following week,” he said.
“Maybe the Geelong game is put (back), but I am not sure if that’s achievable.”
“I think you have to weigh up the whole equation … if we were to stay in Perth and play West Coast with a guarantee that we could then break and have some time when we could have some freedoms (in Victoria), it might not be such a bad outcome,” he said.
“But if that’s not the case, I think we would all rather come home … and focus on Geelong on the Friday after the bye break.”
On Tuesday night players received an email from the AFL Players Association which promised clubs will not be sent on the road for more than three weeks at a time.
“At this stage, the AFL has confirmed to the AFLPA and clubs that a period of no more than three weeks away at any given time will be required, and that not all clubs will necessarily need to be away for that length of time, if at all,” the email read.
The email included a video message from Gillon McLachlan, in which the AFL chief executive attempted to reassure players they will not be sent on extended road trips.
“I want to say specifically that we are not envisaging hubs,” McLachlan said.
“They are a last-term resort.
The AFL’s Travis Auld confirmed there could be little certainty about the fixture beyond this weekend because of the escalating crisis in Melbourne.
“The reality of the current situation in the community means the fixture will become a week by week proposition for the short term.” he said
“Although we won’t have matches in Victoria this weekend, we are hopeful to get the footy back in Melbourne for round 13 and the Queen’s Birthday match at the MCG, a proposition we will continue to monitor and work with the Victorian state government on how that plays out.
“The last few days has been a challenge for everyone, but as always, our clubs, players, umpires, venues and broadcast partners have been open-minded and accommodating on the next steps needed to keep the season going.”
Friday, June 4
Melbourne v Brisbane at Giants Stadium, 7.50pm AEST
Saturday, June 5
Sydney v St Kilda at the SCG, 1.45pm AEST
Adelaide v Collingwood – TBC
Essendon v Richmond at Optus Stadium, 5.40pm AWST
Sunday, June 6
Carlton v West Coast at the SCG, 3.20pm AEST
Fremantle v Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium 4.40pm AWST
Bye: Geelong, Gold Coast, GWS, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide
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