The AFL’s decision to put fierce foes Port Adelaide and Adelaide in the same hotel hub makes little sense, according to Power coach Ken Hinkley.
The South Australian clubs will both be housed at the same Gold Coast resort for at least seven weeks as the AFL resumes competition on June 11.
“We are archenemies … it doesn’t make a lot of sense to put them together,” Hinkley told reporters.
“I’m not sure about that. It just doesn’t quite feel right in Adelaide.”
Port and the Crows will depart for the Gold Coast on Sunday, ahead of clearance to resume full-contact training next Monday.
“Hopefully we’re not there for any longer than the six or seven weeks but we don’t know that,” Hinkley said.
“We can deal with it for a bit but there’s a tipping point.”
Hinkley suggested the protocol went too far in SA, which has no active coronavirus cases.
“We’re getting tested twice a week but I’m looking at the community, thinking ‘everyone else is having to live a pretty reasonable life’,” he said.
“We’re probably being shut down a little bit too far as far as what we can and can’t do.”
SA health authorities rejected appeals from the AFL clubs for exemptions which would have allowed contact training.
“We could potentially be here for another three weeks, wouldn’t that be fantastic, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to get that,” Hinkley said.
“I’m seeing a fair bit of community contact going on out there when I go to the supermarket … when I drive down the road.
“There’s a standard that we’re applying to the football clubs in South Australia, we get it, we’re above the (community) level.
“We’re happy to live above the standard. We want to be community leaders.”
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks, in his first season at the helm of the Crows, had no problem with being housed with Port Adelaide.
“We cross the white line, then she’s on,” Nicks, a former Port assistant coach, said on Monday.
“But I know a lot of our (SA) guys, they know each other really well.
“Sharing a hotel with Port Adelaide, I have no issue. I know a lot of them well.
“(If) we play at that neutral venue … well, different story.”
SA health protocols bar contact training until June 8 — three days before the AFL season restarts — meaning both Port and the Crows were effectively forced into a Gold Coast hub.
Strategy important as teams begin group training
Right across the league, players began training in groups of eight on Monday, before a return to whole-group, full-contact training from Monday, May 25.
Clubs were being strategic in compiling their groups as, if one player tests positive, the other seven players also have to self-isolate for 14 days.
Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew said the Suns had put together groups with a mix of experience and different positions to avoid a scenario where their best players — or for example, all their defenders — could be put into quarantine.
“We’ve done a bit of a mix of experience, bit of like-for-like stuff and also positional,” Dew told SEN radio.
“I think the theory behind it is if one group has to sit out for 14 days, obviously you don’t put all your best 22 in similar groups.
“Our boys have been pretty good and clearly everyone’s tested negative thus far but we’ve just got to be vigilant.”
There is a range of mechanisms in place targeted at avoiding a COVID-19 outbreak.
Players and officials have already undergone the first of what will soon be twice-weekly coronavirus tests and they also face daily health checks, while the return to training has come with strict restrictions.
Players cannot have unnecessary visitors in their homes, visit friends at their houses or go to cafes — beyond getting takeaway food or coffee.
They are also not allowed to play golf or go surfing.
“We’ve had a lot of instruction from the players’ association and the AFL and we’ve got to pretty much revert back to the restrictions that we just came out of (in Victoria),” Melbourne winger Adam Tomlinson told SEN.
“It’s just what we’ve got to do to get footy back on the park.
“It’s a little bit annoying but at the same time, we’d rather be out there training and playing footy and … we still get to go to the footy club and see all the boys so it’s not as if we’re still just training with a partner.
“So, pretty much you can only go outside your house for those four reasons of work, picking up kids, medical and to the supermarket to get food.”
Players returned to their clubs, in many cases returning equipment they had been using while trying to keep fit in isolation.
In Melbourne, Richmond players like Bachar Houli, Tom Lynch, Daniel Rioli and Josh Caddy were among those bringing equipment such as weights and exercise bikes back to the Tigers’ centre at Punt Road Oval.
The Tigers went through their paces, as Damien Hardwick’s men began to ramp up their preparations to get back to football and push for a third flag in four seasons.