Victoria Premier Dan Andrews’ insistence Sydney’s status as a red zone will not change soon has left the Swans and Giants facing more uncertainty and casts further doubt over next week’s derby remaining in the city.
Even if NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian ends Sydney’s lockdown on Friday, the issue confronting the AFL is how both clubs would be able to travel interstate to play games, should they return home from Melbourne, without putting the competition on pause.
Next week’s Sydney derby could be headed to Canberra or Melbourne.Credit:Getty Images
The Swans regained their full playing list over the weekend with those who had been stranded in Newcastle, such as premiership forward Sam Reid and young guns Braeden Campbell and Logan McDonald, being given the green light to join the team in Melbourne.
A source familiar with the matter said players must follow isolation requirements but were free to train with the wider squad.
The AFL announced on Tuesday the Giants would play Gold Coast in Ballarat on Saturday, though the venue for the round 18 derby remains uncertain.
Last year’s clash was staged in Perth and it’s likely next week’s game will again be played outside of Sydney despite the Giants remaining hopeful it could still be held at Giants Stadium.
Canberra, where the Giants play three home games a year, is favoured to be the new host, although there are contingency plans for the game to be held in Melbourne.
“The Sydney derby has quickly become one of the premium entertainment events in Sydney and with the current ladder positions of both clubs, it will play a big part in finalising the make-up of the top eight,” Giants chief executive David Matthews said.
The Giants had been scheduled to play Gold Coast at Giants Stadium but the game was moved due to Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak.
“The Giants explored a range of options regarding this game and this included the possibility of it being played at Manuka Oval in Canberra,” Matthews said.
“We’ve worked closely with the ACT government and been in regular contact in regards to what opportunities there are to play extra home games in Canberra this year.
“With the current restrictions in place and the uncertainty regarding the evolving COVID situation, it was agreed that regional Victoria was the most suitable venue for this particular match.”
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