Callan Ward with his wife Ruby and their newborn Romeo. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Callan Ward with his wife Ruby and their newborn Romeo. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Players defend reluctance to go into AFL hubs

GWS Giant Phil Davis has defended AFL players for being reluctant to resume the 2020 season in quarantine hubs away from their families.

Players informed the AFL on Tuesday night that they were unlikely to approve the 20-week hub plan - to keep players in one hub for eight weeks, then head home for a break, and then enter another hub to finish the season - if families weren't included in some way.

Australian sports stars Sam Groth and Scott Hend immediately slammed the response on Twitter, arguing that time away from family is a sacrifice that many athletes already make.

Davis said the criticism is unfair, given the short time players have had to consider the option.

"It's been less than 24 hours since the proposal has been put forward, this isn't the AFL players association's final decision, so let's let it unravel before we come in and say, hey you guys are being unreasonable," Davis said.

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Phil Davis trains with teammate Matt Buntine during the AFL’s shutdown. Picture: Toby Zerna
Phil Davis trains with teammate Matt Buntine during the AFL’s shutdown. Picture: Toby Zerna

 

 

"He (Groth) would have known going into his tennis career that one of the sacrifices he would need to make is travelling a lot, and if he has loved ones or family, he'll be travelling around.

"We as AFL players, undertook this contract in 2020, thinking we'd have a certain life, that's what we agreed to and we signed the dotted line."

The AFL Players Association vice-president said individual circumstances vary across the playing group and that he'd understand if some players choose to remain with their families.
"Who's to say it's selfish not to go to a hub, when at home your partner may have been stood down, living interstate from all your family and you've got three children. They've got to somehow manage all that by themselves," Davis said.

"To me, that'd almost be contrary, it'd be selfless to give up your dream as an AFL player, to put your family before all that."

Players are still in talks with the AFL and clubs about how exactly the hubs would work and whether family members can be included.

Giants teammate Callan Ward said it would be difficult to move into a quarantine hub, away from his wife Ruby and newborn son Romeo.

"It's going to be really hard if it did happen because Ruby's moved up from Melbourne, she's got support around her here, but she's got no family so she'd have to be with Romeo all day every day," Ward said.

While the midfielder is open to the idea, he believes it needs to be reviewed in its current form.

"I think the hubs can work, especially for short periods of time, but the issue is with families, guys going away from newborns, or if they've got a sick grandfather who's in his last few months, that's going to be a real issue if you're away for two months at a time," Ward said.

"I think the AFL has to work through that with the players, have understanding from both ends.

"Players and myself will obviously make it work as best as we can, but I don't think it's going to be all smooth sailing."

 

Originally published as Players defend reluctance to go into AFL hubs


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