Port Adelaide midfielder Tom Rockliff has accused the AFL of bias toward Victorian teams after the league’s ruling to prevent certain clubs resuming group training.
The Western Australian government has lifted the local limit on outdoor gatherings to ten people as the state’s COVID-19 cases decline.
The ruling in WA matches that of South Australia and would have allowed teams in those states to expand their training groups as the AFL moves towards restarting the postponed season.
Gold Coast chief executive Mark Evans has confirmed the two Queensland clubs – the Suns and Brisbane Lions – could also ramp up training if given approval by the AFL after the state government on Friday eased restrictions.
But the AFL quickly stepped in to ensure the ten Victorian clubs, along with Sydney and GWS, were not disadvantaged by different restrictions in different states, stressing all 18 teams must abide by initial rules where players can only train with one other person.
While Rockliff – who has previously captained Brisbane and has spent his entire 191-game career outside of Victoria – understands the AFL’s predicament, he is still frustrated by the stance.
“I sort of get where the AFL’s coming from. They wanted to go with Scott Morrison’s advice and the federal government,” Rockliff told ABC Radio.
“The ability for us to train in groups would have been handy but as we know the AFL makes the rules and it’s generally got a bias towards Victorian teams, and that’s just the way it goes.
“It’s something we have to adjust to but I sort of understand it in this scenario.”
Port Adelaide football boss Chris Davies disagreed with his midfielder, saying the AFL’s equalisation move is fair in the current climate of uncertainty.
“We have the potential to be able to train with more than two people, but we’re also going into a period now where there’s 15 to 17 of our guys who are going to have to quarantine for two weeks,” he told ABC Radio.
“It’s really important from here that everyone gets an opportunity to have some form of level playing field.”
West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett is expecting the AFL to soon revisit the rules surrounding group training.
“That will change very rapidly and hopefully we’ll be able to at least start training with groups of ten and then a few weeks down the track we may be able to get a full group of guys training together,” he said.