The Sydney derby next round is set to be moved to Ballarat due to the escalating COVID-19 crisis which has led to Victoria shutting its border to NSW and the ACT.
The Swans overcame the turmoil to post an impressive victory over the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Sunday but crosstown rival the Giants relinquished their spot in the eight after suffering a shock one-point loss to Gold Coast at Mars Stadium.
The Swans beat the Western Bulldogs on Sunday and are likely to face the Giants in the Sydney derby next round in Ballarat.Credit:Getty Images
The Giants are likely to return to the venue on Saturday afternoon to take on the high-flying Swans though the AFL was also considering GMHBA Stadium as a contingency. That is seen as the less likely option given the match is a Giants’ home game, and the Swans’ strong record in Geelong.
Canberra had been earmarked to host the fixture but that is no longer possible with the ACT also declared a red zone by Victoria.
It is the second season in a row the pandemic has forced the relocation of the derby, with last year’s game played in Perth.
The border closure is set to extend the Swans’ and the Giants’ stay in Melbourne, with both clubs and the AFL working to find a way to reunite players and staff with their families and loved ones in Sydney.
The Giants found the Gold Coast Suns too strong at Mars Stadium in Ballarat.Credit:Getty Images
The Herald and The Age reported on Saturday the AFL would look to make a submission to the Victorian government for a transitional hub to allow this to happen, though a league source with knowledge of the matter said no headway had been made on the weekend.
Swans coach John Longmire was guarded regarding the possibility of players missing games to return home, saying it would be a case by case scenario and that the club would support all players and staff. The Swans’ club doctor is set to return home this week.
Longmire paid tribute to his players and staff for being able to post two important victories in Victoria despite the uncertainty over their future.
“We’re trying to support our families as much as we can,” Longmire said. “It’s got challenges but we feel like we’re coping pretty well at the moment. The bonus is we get to play in Victoria in front of our Victorian home fans.″
Giants coach Leon Cameron said his players would find out this week whether there’ll be an opportunity for their families to visit them in Victoria.
“Clearly up in Sydney there are some challenges and we feel for all the people that are going through those challenges, Giants supporters, anyone who is in NSW and Sydney,” he said.
“The AFL has been fantastic, communication has been great, clearly there’ll be some decisions made. We’ve been down here [in Victoria] coming on three weeks and I’m mindful some big decisions will be made early in the week. Whether some people can come down and visit and family, the guys will work that out.″
Cameron said he had no clarity where the game against the Swans would be played.
“We’ve got a big challenge next week against the Swans,” Cameron said. “We don’t know exactly where that’s going to be and no doubt this will hurt us a little bit but the sign of a good club is backing up and dealing with all the challenges that sit outside your footy club, equally inside.”
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