AFL teams want to get home next week

Upcoming byes could give Melbourne AFL teams respite from a long period on the road, with both Carlton and the Western Bulldogs hopeful of returning home sooner rather than later.

The Bulldogs flew 27 players, plus coaches and staff, to Sydney on Sunday night amid an escape from Melbourne as the Covid situation intensified.

Carlton had to make a mad dash to Sydney last week, with Hawthorn, and Essendon flew to Perth.

The AFL is still scrambling to move other round 12 games this weekend, with St Kilda versus Sydney, initially scheduled for Marvel Stadium on Saturday – to be relocated – to either Sydney or Cairns.

The Saints already have a round 13 assignment against Adelaide in North Queensland.

Melbourne’s Covid-19 restrictions still apply to the travelling AFL parties.

They must wear masks outdoors when they are not exercising, can only purchase takeaway food and coffees and cannot travel too far from their hotel base.

While the Western Bulldogs have flown to Sydney for a week of training, they will then fly to Perth on Saturday to play Fremantle before, hopefully, returning to Melbourne next Monday morning for next week’s bye.

Bulldogs football manager Chris Grant said the players had been given “more freedom” to train in Sydney than what would have been available in Western Australia after originally planning to fly to Perth early.

“Because of last year and being able to deal with things on the run, this isn’t new,” he said.

“It’s still a week away from our families, but the players have taken it well.”

Day 1 in Sydney ✊

The AFL has already moved Saturday night’s Dreamtime game between Essendon and Richmond to Perth Stadium. The Bombers are already there, while Richmond played in Sydney on Sunday.

Carlton could play one more game in Sydney, against West Coast this weekend, a match that will be moved from the MCG, most likely to Sydney.

Blues coach David Teague said he and his players were hopeful of returning to Melbourne, which is in the middle of a seven-day lockdown, after that game.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty around it, but hopefully everyone stays safe, does the right thing and we get it under control,” Teague said.

“We have the bye the week after that, so we should be able to get back to Melbourne after the West Coast game.”

The three matches initially scheduled to be played in Melbourne in round 12 will all be moved, and Friday night‘s blockbuster between ladder leader Melbourne and third-placed Brisbane will be shifted from Alice Springs, most likely to a Sydney venue.

St Kilda versus Sydney, initially scheduled for Marvel Stadium on Saturday, will be relocated – to either Sydney or Cairns, where the Saints already have a round 13 assignment against Adelaide.

The Carlton-West Coast game on Sunday will be moved from the MCG, most likely to Sydney.

Originally published asWhen Victorian teams could return home

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