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Port and Crows likely to head interstate after exemptions refusal

Football

The Adelaide Crows’ coronavirus training breach had an impact on South Australia refusing exemptions for the state’s AFL clubs, Port Adelaide say.

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SA’s health officials have denied requests from the Crows and Port for travel and training exemptions which would have allowed the AFL to soon resume.

The decision means both Port and the Crows have to join Perth-based clubs West Coast and Fremantle in moving to interstate quarantine hubs for the AFL season to resume.

A group of 16 Crows players broke AFL coronavirus protocols last week when training en-masse at the Barossa Valley.

The players and assistant coach Ben Hart were quarantined for 14 days, under SA protocols, at a golf resort after returning from interstate.

The AFL gave the 16 players a suspended one-game sanction and stood Hart down from coaching for six weeks.

Port Adelaide’s general manager of football Chris Davies said Adelaide’s breach was a likely factor in SA health’s decision to deny exemptions for SA clubs.

“I don’t think that even the staunchest Crows supporter would believe that it has had a positive impact,” Davies told reporters on Thursday.

” … Confidence in the way that the industry goes about things is vitally important.”

Like West Coast and Fremantle, Port’s preference was to enter a Queensland hub.

But Davies said the most pressing matter was for the AFL to urgently appeal to SA health officials to relax training restrictions in the state.

SA health hierarchy reaffirmed on Wednesday night a statewide ban on contract training in groups larger than 10 until June 8 – just three days before one suggested date for AFL games to resume.

Davies said if that rule stood, Port could be forced to fly interstate as soon as next week.

“The biggest part of last night’s news for us was really that we won’t be able to do any contact training until June the 8th,” he said.

“If that remains, then the reality is we will have to move interstate if the AFL look to move with their current timeline of what looks likes a return to play in mid to late June.

“The discussion around where we relocate to is still one that we need to have.

“But right now, obviously we’re working with both the AFL and the government in the hope that we can get some of the training requirements organised such that we don’t have to move in the short term.”

AFL players are currently restricted to training in pairs due to varying rules across the states.

Adelaide’s football director Mark Ricciuto said SA health’s refusal of exemptions had “blindsided a lot of people” in the state.

West Coast and Fremantle were both favouring relocating temporarily to the Gold Coast after Western Australia’s refusal to grant quarantine exemptions.

And North Melbourne and Hawthorn’s hopes of hosting games in Tasmania this year have faded, with Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein saying his state would not be able to “accommodate” AFL football under its current border restrictions.

-AAP

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