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Buckley happy to fly more to get season restarted

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18th May, 2020
11

Collingwood are willing to fly more often during the coronavirus-affected AFL season in order to share the travel burden with rival clubs, coach Nathan Buckley says.

The Magpies are often derided by opposition supporters for their relatively light travel schedule, particularly in comparison to non-Victorian clubs.

But with clubs from Western Australia and South Australia forced into Queensland hubs to restart the 2020 season, Buckley is in a charitable mood.

“(Victorian clubs) are probably going to be in a position to share that travel load a little bit more to buffer, in particular, the WA and South Australian clubs in their predicament of going into hubs,” Buckley told Fox Footy on Tuesday night.

“I would put our hand up to travel a little more often to be able to buffer that and to share that load through the 10 Victorian clubs that probably haven’t had to travel as much at times.

“I think that would probably be something that we would see (this season).”

Collingwood had been due to play just five of their 22 games outside Melbourne in 2020 before the coronavirus shutdown forced a hasty reworking of the fixture.

Fourteen of the Magpies’ home-and-away games were to be played on their home ground at the MCG.

Reigning premiers Richmond had the same amount of games scheduled at the MCG, but also had one more interstate trip in their schedule.

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The AFL is set to confirm the first block of reworked fixtures by the end of the month, ahead of the season restart on June 11.

Buckley’s travel concession came as it emerged clubs would face the prospect of travelling on match-day chartered flights in 2020, with the AFL determined to limit players from staying in hotels during the coronavirus pandemic.

The tough new schedule is a departure from previous league rules, which required players to travel to interstate venues the day before games.

It has already been tipped to provide home sides with a greater advantage than usual and could even prevent away teams taking players that may be more susceptible to injury.

“I think it’s going to have an impact but I think there’s going to be trade-offs and sacrifices and it’s going to be one of those seasons,” Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale told Footy Classified.

“There’s going to be compromises all through it and I think that’s the price that we have to pay.”

Buckley echoed Gale’s sentiments, saying clubs were willing to be more flexible on a range of issues this year in order to get the competition back up and running.

“You’ve got to do whatever you need to do to get the competition going,” Buckley said.

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“We feel very fortunate to be able to get back to work, and that’s pretty much what we’re doing.”

Buckley was pleased to have his players back at training on Monday said Collingwood would get back into match practice as soon as possible, with unrestricted training to recommence for all clubs on May 25.

© AAP