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Crows sideline premiership player over anti-vax stance

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The Adelaide Football Club has put premiership AFLW player and registered nurse Deni Varnhagen on its “inactive” list over her refusal to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

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The Crows announced this morning that the club and Varnhagen had “mutually agreed that she will move to the inactive list effective immediately”.

In a statement, the club said the defender had “reiterated she does not wish to receive a COVID-19 vaccination” and was therefore in breach of the AFL’s policy for which stated “all women’s players and football staff must receive their first vaccination by November 19 and be fully vaccinated by December 17”.

The Crows said that being listed as inactive means an AFLW player remains linked to their club but is classified as unable to fulfil their obligations.

CEO Tim Silvers said the club had “long been in discussions with Varnhagen and this decision was inevitable given her stance”.

“The AFL’s initial vaccination deadline is still a fortnight away, however Deni has made it well known she is against vaccination in this instance,” he said.

“We have a team-first approach and the timing of this decision has been made in the best interests of the team and its preparation for the upcoming season.

“Our club supports the League’s policy and we strongly encourage people to be vaccinated for the benefit of community health and safety.”

AFL policy also states that men’s league players and staff at SA, WA and Queensland clubs must be double-vaccinated by February 18.

Varnhagen was a member of the Crows’ inaugural AFLW squad and played 31 games including the 2017 and 2019 premierships.

On Tuesday, she took part in an Adelaide protest about mandatory vaccination for medical staff.

“I love being a nurse and coercion is not consent so it’s pretty self-explanatory,” Varnhagen told Channel 7, wearing a shirt saying “Freedom to choose”.

“I’m scared for all of us nurses, we’re all terrified, we love working and want to be back working.”

Varnhagen said she did not want to be “at threat” of losing her job because of what she labelled as a “medical experiment”.

“There’s a lot that’s in the news that isn’t speaking the truth,” she said.

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