AFL players have ‘significant issues’ with 20-week hub plan
AFLPA boss Paul Marsh says the proposed 20-week hub for players which would be split over two blocks presents "significant issues".
Marsh delivered the AFL's return-to-football proposal to the 850 players today and he conceded the length of the stay in the hub environment and the impact on families was a major concern.
He said the proposal was a worst-case scenario and that the response from players was mixed.
Sources told the Herald Sun last night, however, there was disenchantment among the players over the five-month quantine plan.'
The AFL's plan would mean players competing in the Grand Final will have spent 20 of 21 weeks living away in quarantine.
Marsh stressed the AFL proposal was not the final decision.
"This is not a negotiation where we are at the end and it's take it or leave it, it's absolutely a discussion about what the players' issues are with these proposals," Marsh said.
"It's important that we're not getting too hysterical right now, there's a lot of detail to work work through on a number of issues.''
He added: "We've talked to the players about what the worst case scenario here is, but if government reduces border restrictions then things could get back to normal,'' Marsh said.
"We've been very clear with that with the players.
"But also, you have to present them with what the worst could look like and that's the worst.''
Marsh did not paint today's developments as the start of a hub war between the players and the AFL.'
AFL boss Gill McLachlan said tonight: "It is important that we all play our role in Australia flattening the curve and if we can continue to achieve that, then hopefully we might end up starting with a hub model and finishing with teams able to fly interstate without the need for a quarantine period.
"For now our job is to deal with the current restrictions in place.''
The key elements centred on players' mental health and well-being and their families.
It was also revealed to the players that clubs would be require 30-32 players into the hubs and leave the remainder of the list at home.
The players would also be tested twice a week for covoid 19 and undergo daily temperature tests.
A significant issue is the players want the choice on whether their families join them, but to reduce costs the AFL is proposing a special needs criteria
"The players want to do everything they reasonably can do to play, but there's some significant issues which we need to work through,'' Marsh said.
"Clearly we've got to make sure the mental heath and well-being of the players is prioritised in what would be in an incredibly difficult environment.
"Youve got to think about the individual circumstances.
"The players have got young families, there are players expecting children, there are players with ill parents, players who have got kids at school ... all these things are obviously coming out.
"Right at the moment families is one of the issues we need to work through..
"How do you work through that.''
"Clearly we need to work with the AFL and they know we need to work through it. This is not a final position from them.''
In the past week, Richmond's Jack Riewoldt and Adelaide's Rory Sloane, both of which are parents of young children, have expressed concern about hub plan.
Today's meeting included the presenting of a survey to the players, with one of the questions being asked was were they expecting a child.
The Herald Sun knows of multiple players with pregnant partners including Western Bulldog Mitch Wallis, Geelong's Sam Menegola and North Melbourne's Jed Anderson.
North ruckman Todd Goldstein has a three-week old baby.
GWS veteran Phil Davis said last night he wouldn't feel comfortable pressuring teammates to move into a hub.
"I couldn't ask Sam Jacobs, who has just moved his family to Sydney, to leave his wife and young daughter behind without support," Davis said on Fox Footy Live.
"I'd find it very hard to persuade him as much as he's a big part of how we're going to win going forward.
"From a selfish point of view I desperately want a Sam (Jacobs) or a Callan Ward with a young kid or a Sam Reid to play.
"But also it's important to make their own decisions."
Reid's partner Elissa gave birth in Grand Final week last year.
Marsh described today's meeting as an ''update meeting and not a decision meeting''.
''We've got feedback from the players and there's no doubt the AFL is seeking our views from us,'' Marsh said.
''It's incredibly complex what the AFL's tyring to work through here.''
Originally published as Players' 'significant issues' with 20-week hub plan