AFL overhauls remainder of pre-season fixture to minimise COVID risk

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All AFL teams will remain in their home states for the final pre-season practice matches to minimise travel and any coronavirus risks.

Only one AAMI Community Series game involving Victorian teams – North Melbourne v Hawthorn, which had been scheduled for Launceston – has been shifted to Melbourne and will be played at North’s Arden St ground on Saturday, March 6.

The other games involving Victorian teams – Carlton v St Kilda (Marvel Stadium), Collingwood v Richmond (Marvel), Geelong v Essendon (GMHBA Stadium) and Western Bulldogs v Melbourne (Marvel) – will stay in Victoria at the same venues.

Jarman Impey during the Hawks’ pre-season win over the Bulldogs on Wednesday. Credit:Getty Images

But the non-Victorian teams will all play their cross-town rivals for consecutive weeks as a result of the change, with Adelaide playing Port Adelaide (Flinders University Stadium), GWS taking on the Swans (Giants Stadium) and West Coast facing Fremantle (Optus Stadium). Those three games are all being played on Saturday. Gold Coast and the Brisbane Lions will play one another at Metricon Stadium late Monday.

The AFL took the view that it did not want teams to travel and was mindful of the risks if borders were to shut and teams were required to quarantine, or if there was any outbreak.

By staying in their home states, those risks are greatly reduced with the AFL playing only one proper full-scale, pre-season round before the season proper kicks off on Thursday, March 18, with Carlton to face Richmond.

While AFLW teams are still travelling the league’s view was that it did not want teams to travel unnecessarily when there was no premiership points on the line.

2021 AAMI Community Series Fixture

Thursday, March 4

Carlton vs. St Kilda, Marvel Stadium from 7:10pm   

Friday, March 5  

Collingwood vs. Richmond, Marvel Stadium from 7:10pm

Saturday, March 6   

North Melbourne vs. Hawthorn, Arden Street Oval from 4:10pm

Geelong Cats vs. Essendon, GMHBA Stadium from 7:10pm

Sunday, March 7   

GWS Giants vs. Sydney Swans, GIANTS Stadium from 1:10pm

Adelaide Crows vs. Port Adelaide, Flinders University Stadium from 4:10pm

West Coast Eagles vs. Fremantle, Optus Stadium from 7:10pm

Monday, March 8   

Western Bulldogs vs. Melbourne, Marvel Stadium from 3:10pm

Gold Coast Suns vs. Brisbane Lions, Metricon Stadium from 7:10pm

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