The Swans celebrate a goal during the Round 2 AFL match between the Sydney Swans the Essendon Bombers at the SCG in Sydney, Sunday, June 14, 2020. (AAP Image/Mark Evans) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Swans celebrate a goal during the Round 2 AFL match between the Sydney Swans the Essendon Bombers at the SCG in Sydney, Sunday, June 14, 2020. (AAP Image/Mark Evans) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Giant waiting game leaves GWS in Melbourne limbo

AIR AFL will force GWS to spend the best part of 24 hours waiting around in Melbourne for their Sydney Swans rivals to finish this weekend.

The Giants play Friday night and the Swans not until the following afternoon, yet they will still be bound together under the AFL's controversial co-share agreement.

For Sydney, it works out well: a normal pre-COVID away game preparation of touching down the day before they play North Melbourne.

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But for GWS, not only must they travel just hours before first bounce in their Friday night blockbuster against the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium, but they will then spend the entirety of the next day twiddling their thumbs until the Swans are ready to fly home with them on the Saturday night.

If you think married couples are struggling seeing too much of each other in the COVID era, spare a thought for Sydney's two AFL teams.

Not only do the teams have no choice but to play each other in perpetual scratch matches this season with no reserves competition running - but the AFL won't let them use official umpires due to the sanctity of the quarantine bubble.

Instead, former greats and respective assistant coaches at the Sydney and GWS Steve Johnson and Amon Buchanan were forced to take on officiating duties for a game played in three 20 minute thirds with varying numbers of players on the field at any one time.

GWS players will share their flight down to Melbourne with the Swans players.
GWS players will share their flight down to Melbourne with the Swans players.

These are bizarre times, but both clubs appreciate the bigger picture, and that every team is making sacrifices in the COVID-19 universe.

That said, GWS had originally expected they might be able to travel separately to Melbourne this weekend.

"A day and a bit apart probably means that's not going to be required. I wouldn't have thought it would be required that weekend," GWS chief David Matthews said last month.

Matthews would prefer the two clubs to travel separately regardless, but appreciates there are bigger forces at play and on Monday GWS said they were comfortable with the situation.

North Melbourne and Essendon flew to Sydney and back together last Sunday, but that was in the same 24-hour period.

The AFL's logic on the co-sharing is that it saves on flight costs, and generally should cut down on the amount of time teams stay at hotels - another financial saving but also a COVID-19 safety measure.

However, none of those objectives will be met when the Giants and Swans are playing on different days and are both still forced to stay overnight.

The Giants will make the most of their time together and will hold their recovery at a Victorian beach on Saturday and then complete their video review while at the hotel.

They have a seven-day break to their next match so are happy it won't affect their preparation for their next assignment - a Friday night assignment against Collingwood at Giants Stadium.

"My take on it, is, it is what it is," said GWS coach, Leon Cameron before the start of the season.

The Swans and Giants players must know each other pretty well by now.
The Swans and Giants players must know each other pretty well by now.

"Deal with it, everyone will deal with it. And if we have to go down and back in the one day then deal with it. It would be not used as an excuse. All clubs have to deal with it so we're no different.

'We're used to travel. We (normally) travel 13 times out of 22 weeks.

"Until you've actually done it, it's hard to comment, but what I'm really confident on is that the group is mature enough to (focus) on what's in front of them."



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