West Coast Eagles forward Jack Darling has been barred from training with the club, having failed to meet the AFL’s requirement that all players be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The league’s cut-off to receive at least one vaccine dose passed on Friday, meaning Darling, one of the league’s few players yet to meet the mandate, is on the outer.
The Eagles have released a statement confirming the 29-year old, who was their leading goalkicker in 2021, had ‘not adhered to the AFL’s COVID-19 training and playing mandates’.
“While Jack will take some time to assess his future he will train independently of the remainder of the squad,” the statement reads.
“The club will continue to support Jack as he contemplates his options and is optimistic that he will return to build on his outstanding career to date.
“While the club does respect the right to personal choice it also supports the protocols put in place by the AFL and Governments – both Federal and State – as they navigate their way through this persistent and challenging pandemic.
“Neither the club nor Jack will make any further comment on the matter.”
The Eagles 2018 premiership star is the most high-profile player affected by the AFL’s requirements since Carlton’s Liam Jones announced his shock retirement late in 2021.
Since making his debut in 2011, Darling has played 236 games for the Eagles, with his 450 goals the third-most in club history behind teammate Josh Kennedy (675) and Peter Sumich (514).
The news comes as a major blow to the Eagles’ chances of returning to finals action in 2022, with Darling having kicked at least 40 goals in every season since 2015 bar the COVID-shortened 2020.