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Suns grounded en route to Shanghai

Football

UPDATED | Gold Coast were held up on board a grounded plane for about two hours before arriving in Shanghai for their historic AFL match against Port Adelaide.

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Players and officials boarded their connecting flight in Singapore, but had to wait on the tarmac before taking off.

But co-captain Steven May says they are determined to overcome any obstacles and make their historic AFL match in Shanghai a success.

Gold Coast and Port Adelaide team leaders were special guests at a launch in Shanghai’s famous Bund district today.

It will be the first AFL match for premiership points outside of Australia or New Zealand.

But there has been plenty of commentary about potential problems, including air quality and whether the gamble of trying to tap into the China market is worthwhile.

May said immediately after their big win over Geelong last weekend, the players addressed the need to have a positive attitude for the China trip.

“We sat down immediately after the Geelong game – we know what we’re taking on in China, which is an historic event,” he said.

“We knew there would be potential delays, as there were last night, and there may be an issue with the food – there are a range of possible things that can go wrong.

“But it’s all about the attitude and that’s what we’ve preached with the group.”

Suns coach Rodney Eade had expressed concerns at the weekend about the lack of a direct flight to Shanghai, with the majority of the squad in economy class.

Eade was also asked in the weekend radio interview about possible sandstorms and he replied that they would not play anyone who has respiratory problems.

But Eade said today the air quality had not been a selection issue, with the two clubs bringing squads of 25.

Eade added they will be ready for the match.

“I didn’t actually express concerns – I was asked a question and I answered,” he said of Sunday’s radio interview.

“The facts are, (what) the travel time is and I was asked a question about business class and there are only a few (players) in.

“But there are no complaints, no concerns… we’ve had this on our radar for six months and we’ve planned accordingly.”

 

The two teams will have the bye round after Sunday’s game to help compensate for the international travel.

Port coach Ken Hinkley said star utility Robbie Gray would train later today, amid speculation about a groin problem and whether he will be fit for the match at Jiangwan Stadium.

The two teams will have the bye round after Sunday’s game to help compensate for the international travel.

Port Adelaide travelled to Shanghai earlier yesterday.

-AAP

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