Clubs brace for COVID impact

Clubs brace for COVID impact

AFLW boss Nicole Livingstone says clubs will need to treat COVID-19 setbacks this season in the same way they do for players who are injured or have the flu.

And Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce concedes although it’s unfair that some clubs will be ravaged by COVID-19 more than others, players will simply have to accept it and roll with the punches.

Under the AFLW’s COVID-19 protocols, games will continue to be played if 16 of each club’s 30 primary-listed players plus five train-on players are available for selection.

If the minimum 21 players aren’t available, the game will either be played later in the round or postponed until later in the season.

COVID-19 is already causing mass postponements in Australian sport.

And with most players on AFLW lists either working or studying, COVID-19 is expected to hit the league far more than men’s professional sports.

Livingstone said COVID-19 withdrawals will become a fact of life this AFLW season and clubs will simply need to adapt.

“It must become a little more like having a cold or a flu, or having a soft tissue,” Livingstone said at the AFLW’s virtual season launch on Tuesday.

“There’ll be players that come in and out of this season that are available or not available, so we need to plan for that.

“We have 420 AFLW players, but there’s a further 140 train-on players across the nation that have been training with the AFLW clubs.

“So if we need to supplement players, then we are ready and prepared to do that.”

The COVID-19 protocols mean luck will play a major role in each club’s premiership tilt this season.

Teams who can best avoid the virus will be in a prime position to win games against rivals who suffer a glut of COVID-19 withdrawals.

Melbourne is one of the favourites to win this year’s AFLW flag, and Demons star Pearce felt the situation of teams losing first-choice players was unfair.

“If you sat down and analysed it, there will be weeks where it’s unfair on one team more than another depending on which players are missing,” Pearce said.

“But it doesn’t serve you very well to approach the season in that way. I just don’t think you can worry getting caught up in that pattern of thinking.

“Our mentality is that it’s going to require our entire squad.

“On any given game – whether you’re a first-year player who thought they were the third ruck on the list and are there to develop – you may be called on.”

The season kicks off on Friday with St Kilda hosting Richmond at Skybus Stadium.

(C) AAP 2021