Two Victorian clubs will reportedly form a hub in Perth next month after the Western Australian government eased coronavirus restrictions this week.
Foxfooty.com.au reported the Geelong Cats and Collingwood Magpies will head west in July to play three AFL fixtures in a Perth hub. The Victorian clubs will reportedly remain in Perth from July 11th to early August.
The West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers are currently in a hub on the Gold Coast, but are expected to return to Western Australia after round six.
The AFL has not confirmed the competition’s fixtures beyond round five, but the next batch of fixtures is set to be announced on Thursday or Friday.
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On Monday, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan announced the state would enter Phase 4 of their coronavirus restrictions this weekend, meaning Perth Stadium will be permitted to hold up to 50 per cent capacity, or approximately 30,000 spectators.
McGowan also revealed Western Australia aims to enter Stage 5 on July 18th, where there will be no limit to attendance at the 60,000-capacity venue.
Therefore, there is a possibility for the AFL to host packed crowds at Perth Stadium in round seven of the premiership.
Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir was enthralled by the announcement.
“It is exciting for WA football. It is exciting for the two teams involved. It has come around a little quicker than everyone expected, but it is great news,” Longmuir told 7 News.
“We would love it to be a home game. We would love our fans there supporting us.
“We want to give an opportunity for our passionate fans who have supported us through this rough time to get to our games, but we will let the AFL work through the logistics of that and what will be will be, I guess.”
The AFL is seeking approval from the Western Australian government for AFL clubs to play one another during the mandatory 14-day isolation period.
The Eagles have suffered back-to-back defeats so far in their Sunshine State road trip, losing to Gold Coast and Brisbane since the coronavirus lockdown.
Ruckman Nic Naitanui isn’t buying the excuse being so far from home is behind the defeats, however, saying it’s simply a case of the Eagles not playing to conditions or matching their opponents.
“We’re at one of the best places, Royal Pines is one of the greatest spots up here and you can’t blame the hub,” Naitanui said on Tuesday.
“It’s better than half the guys’ houses back home. You get your food cooked for you, your clothes washed.
“I don’t think the hub has anything to do with it, albeit it’s a little bit different and it’s not the norm, but I think it’s just time come down to our footy that we’re playing on the weekends.
“There’s not really too much to do with the change in scenario.”
Both of West Coast’s matches so far in Queensland have been at night, and Naitanui admits the dewy conditions haven’t suited the team’s style of play. Worryingly, the Eagles have come unstuck in the contest with their much-vaunted and experienced midfield losing the battle to both the Suns and Lions.
With an unbeaten and upbeat Port Adelaide up next, Naitanui said it’s obvious where the Eagles need to improve at Metricon Stadium on Saturday. That match is an afternoon game, meaning the dew shouldn’t be an issue but the Power’s in-form midfield is still a significant obstacle.
Coach Adam Simpson has made it clear he expects his midfield to respond, and Naitanui is eager to see how his teammates bounce back.
“Some of those boys have a lot of pride … they’re even hungrier than ever to prove that they are really good and they are better than most midfields,” Naitanui said.
“Simmo’s put a bit of a challenge to our midfield this week again coming up against one of the best in the comp in Port Adelaide.
“I’m excited to see the Kellys, the Yeos, the Shueys react and show us what they’ve got.”
— With AAP