AFL players aware hub return a possibility | Ralph Lauren

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Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli believes AFL players would be prepared to go back into hubs if required amid Melbourne’s latest coronavirus outbreak.

With the number and spread of exposure sites around the city growing rapidly, including the MCG, Essendon, Carlton and Hawthorn, who play interstate this weekend, have been prompted to make early dashes out of Victoria.

Essendon will fly to Perth on Wednesday morning, Carlton will travel to Sydney on Wednesday afternoon while Hawthorn plan to fly to Darwin early on Thursday.

Bontempelli said players hoped the situation didn’t reach a point where large-scale relocations like those in 2020 were necessary – but were aware it could become a possibility.

“I think we would be (prepared to go into hubs),” Bontempelli told reporters on Wednesday.

“You understand the landscape and clearly it’s a somewhat ever-changing environment and knowing that (going into hubs) is always a chance, depending on how things look and feel.

“I think everyone’s fingers (are) crossed that we don’t get to that point but clearly if that becomes something we need to consider, the right discussions will be had and obviously, we need to go through the right things – but we know they do move quickly.

“So, in the back of everyone’s mind, they probably are aware that (hubs) may potentially be something we have to move to.

“But … for right now, hopefully we can get a handle on the current environment.”

The Bulldogs players and staff had coronavirus tests on Tuesday morning and had to self-isolate after a staff member visited Highpoint shopping centre when it was a coronavirus exposure site.

On Wednesday, the Bulldogs confirmed all those tests came back negative.

Bontempelli expected players to adapt to likely having to cut back on social activities amid the outbreak – having previously worked under stricter protocols than the general public.

“It is probably a bit of a natural instinct to think you’ve got to probably tease back some of the social outings or activities, obviously masks and things all come back,” he said.

“So it does feel like you slip back into a bit of a different mode or a different environment – which shouldn’t be too difficult to do.

“Yes it’s unfortunate, but I think we’re all ultimately hoping and praying we can get a handle on it as a state, and then really, really be able to get back to the positive state we were in.

“So you’ve just got to follow the guidelines and do your bit to help slow any spread that happens.”

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