AFL confirms trio of fixture changes for Round 11

The AFL has confirmed its fixture changes for Round 11 in the wake of Melbourne’s COVID-19 outbreak, with two matches shifted into different states.

Hawthorn’s clash against the Gold Coast Suns, which was originally slated to be played at TIO Stadium in Darwin, will now be played at the SCG at 7:40 pm AEST on Saturday.

MORE: AFL scrambles as Victoria lockdown confirmed

Richmond’s match against Adelaide, which was originally scheduled for the MCG, will now be played at GIANTS Stadium at 2:10 pm AEST on Sunday.

Due to the Richmond-Adelaide fixture change, the final match of Round 11, Port Adelaide vs Fremantle, which was originally scheduled for 4:40 pm AEST on Sunday, has been moved back to a 5:20 pm AEST start time to allow umpires to travel to the game.

At this stage, the AFL’s other remaining six fixtures for the weekend are expected to be played as currently scheduled, albeit with no crowds in attendance in Victoria.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan indicated that it was the league’s desire to continue playing matches despite Melbourne’s outbreak, stating that players were committed to playing this weekend.

“It’s been a difficult couple of days,” he told reporters.

“Things weren’t settled, frankly, until the last hour and a half. We were working last might for contingencies and possibilities because we didn’t know who the other states were going to react.

“We’re going to monitor the situation in Victoria. At the moment we’ve got nine games scheduled this weekend, we’re looking at the next two or three rounds but they will be determined by what happens over the coming weekend in Victoria.”

While admitting that a return to hubs could be a possibility, McLachlan indicated that clubs weren’t likely to be away from Victoria for a lengthy period.

“They’ve [clubs] taken a mindset that they may be away longer, but we are communicating with them as regularly as we can,” he said.

“They won’t be away weeks, maybe two games, but we continue to talk with them.”

McLachlan stated that the AFL had “no plans of not playing or not finding a way through”, but added that the league was mindful of “minimising movement where we can”.

With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout ramping up in the wake of Melbourne’s outbreak, McLachlan refused to force all AFL players to be vaccinated.

“I’m eligible tomorrow to get a vaccine so I’ll be having a vaccine. Everyone has their personal choice,” he said.

“It’s about health and implications for the community. It won’t change anything in terms of crossing borders. It wouldn’t be able to help us much in our ability to move across borders.”

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