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AFL Season Returns June 11th

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has announced that the AFL season will resume on June 11th. Just prior to the announcement, teams were permitted to begin non-contact training in groups of no more than 10. Teams will now be allowed to begin full contact training on the 25th. However, training will be limited to two sessions per week. Players and officials from all clubs will be required to be tested 24 hours before each training session. When matches do resume, umpires will also be tested. Testing will continue for all for the duration of the season.

The league is still working on the schedule for the season but is expected to have that by the end of the month. In making the announcement, McLachlan said, "Today is a significant step in getting footy back ... as this situation continues to evolve, we have to remain agile and flexible to ... adapt ... while ... we continue to prioritize the health and welfare of our players, staff, and the wider community and ... don't place any burden on the public health system."

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AFL Moves Closer to Restart

Did you say Gold Coast Eagles?

On the day the AFL began COVID-19 testing of AFL players, its hopes of restarting the competition were rocked by a letter from the South Australian government. The AFL intended to have a three-week training period for all teams, in a lead-up to the first AFL game in mid-June. The league looked set to announce an opening game on June 11th, between Collingwood and Richmond, but those plans may now be derailed. The South Australian government has ruled-out an exemption for AFL teams entering its closed borders without a mandatory 14 day quarantine. The Crows and Power were planning to fly in and out of South Australia on a weekly basis, to play in Victoria. In a further blow, the South Australian Government has also stipulated that no football players in South Australia can train in groups of more than ten (and training must be non-contact) until June 8th. The Crows and the Power will now have to find a training base at an east coast location, as soon as possible, if the league is to meet its mid-June restart date.

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Four Free Agents Find New Homes

Brand Tackles Opponent

It is currently the free agency period for the AFL. This period runs until November 22 and allows clubs to pick up delisted free agent players. In late October, soon after they were delisted, Wylie Buzza (Geelong to Port Adelaide), Jack Newnes (St Kilda to Carlton), Kaiden Brand (Hawthorn to Sydney), Sam Gray (Port Adelaide to Sydney), Harley Bennell (Fremantle to Melbourne) signed with new clubs.

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Dockers Shut Down Port

Ryder and Darcy Compete

The improving Fremantle Dockers held Port Adelaide Power scoreless in the final term and raised questions about Port Adelaide’s ability to make the finals. The inconsistent Power have been on the road collecting frequent flyer points in recent weeks; where they lost to Hawthorn in Launceston, Tasmania and then won against the Saints in Shanghai, China. They came to Perth with confidence, having beaten the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium in Round 5.  

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Port Power Shock Eagles in the Wet

Influential Powell-Pepper

Port Adelaide Power used speed and wet weather grunt to comprehensively thrash the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium. The Eagles fielded a team unsuited to the conditions. It was cold, wet and windy and a team loaded with three tall forwards and two ruckmen, would always struggle in the slippery conditions. The Power lacked the height of the Eagles but they made up for it with midfield muscle and quick ball movement.

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List Changes Round II

Brisbane's Daniel Rich

The AFL player shuffle continued with these changes occurring in late October:

Sydney has delisted utility Dean Towers, Jordan Foote, Angus Styles, Jake Brown, Daniel Robinson and Harry Marsh, Towers, 28, was a first-round draft pick as a mature-aged player out of the VFL in 2012 and played 57 games in six seasons. Foote played just six games in four years

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Coaching Moves

Coaching Changes Ahead

Both Brisbane Coach Chris Fagan and Geelong Coach Chris Scott have been given contract extensions. Fagan's is for two seasons while Scott is signed through 2022.

Adam Kingsley has decided to leave his position at St Kilda to seek new opportunities at Richmond. Kingsley, who played 170 games with Port Adelaide from 1997 to 2006, has been with the Saints since 2011. A highly credentialed coach, Kingsley is a graduate of the inaugural Level Four Coaches Program, was named the AFL Coaches Association’s Assistant Coach of the Year in 2015, and is very highly regarded by his peers.

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Clubs Begin Delistings

Billy Hartung handballs

As usual at this time of year, clubs whose seasons are over, begin reviewing their player lists and culling players to prepare for the national draft by opening spots on the roster in a process known as delisting. Some players decide it is time to hang up the boots while others decide they want out of where they are at. So here is the latest as the first part of a multi-part post.

North Melbourne delisted Billy Hartung, Tom Jeffries, Oscar Junker, Gordon Narrier, Daniel Nielson, and Josh Williams. Hartung was thrown a lifeline by the Kangaroos in last year's draft after being delisted by Hawthorn. The midfielder played 63 games for the Hawks 2014-17 and 13 games for Roos, with his solitary year with the club ruined by a torn hamstring in Round 14. After making their debuts in 2017,

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Delistings and Retirements Part 2

Goddard in action

Clubs which didn't make the post season have begun the process of releasing players they don't feel they need next season and opening spots on the roster for draftees. This is known as delisting. This is the second article in a series.

Essendon informed Brendon Goddard he would not be offered a new contract. Goddard, 33, was shocked at the decision while Coach John Worsfold admitted that it was a very tough call to make. An emotional Goddard, who has played every game this season, informed teammates ahead of the final game of the year.

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Dockers Short Circuit Power in the Wet

Polec under pressure

The Fremantle Dockers took advantage of the wet and slippery conditions at Optus Stadium to defeat Port Adelaide Power by nine points. The win meant little but pride for the Dockers, but it cost the Power a potential second spot on the ladder. As a result of the shock loss, the stunned Power have plummeted to fifth place on the ladder.  The game was not pretty and was made difficult by the combination of rain and swirling winds. With their bigger and more mature bodies the visitors won more contested possessions; but the Dockers had raw hunger and pushed more players to the ball. Port could not initiate their running game as their playmakers were cramped and chased by desperate Docker tacklers.

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