AFL look to replicate Big Bash League by implementing player pool for 2022 season

Headshot of Mitchell Woodcock
Mitchell WoodcockThe West Australian
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has endured a tough few seasons due to COVID disruptions.
Camera IconAFL boss Gillon McLachlan has endured a tough few seasons due to COVID disruptions. Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

The AFL is considering following in the Big Bash League’s footsteps and building a designated pool of players clubs can use as top-ups should they be impacted by COVID-19.

Footy reporter Damian Barrett says the proposal is one of several being discussed by the league ahead of round one, which begins on March 16, as they look to keep the game going through the pandemic.

COVID-19 has already impacted several summer sports, with the BBL, NBL, AFLW and A-League all experiencing outbreaks within teams, forcing games to be postponed and entire fixtures reshuffled.

Under the reported proposal, a player can be selected from the pool by a club one weekend and then other clubs after that.

The BBL implemented a similar system this month, where eight players were put under BBL hub protocols and accessible to any team should they lose a player because of COVID-19.

The report comes after Collingwood big man Mason Cox confirmed he tested positive for COVID.

Cox took to social media to share his test result, like Geelong star Tom Hawkins did earlier this month.

It’s believed more than 100 AFL players have contracted COVID during this off-season.

The AFL is also reportedly weighing up its own rules for how long a COVID-19 positive player is required to be isolated from teammates, with some clubs hoping it could be as little as five days.

Could Claremont’s Bailey Rogers finally make it into the AFL through a players pool?
Camera IconCould Claremont’s Bailey Rogers finally make it into the AFL through a players pool? Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

A designated pool of players could open up the opportunity for those who missed out in the AFL Draft.

WAFL stars Bailey Rogers and Blake Schlensog, as well as rising youngsters like Bryce Watson, could all benefit from the introduction of the pool.

West Coast have their own WAFL team with players like Joey Deegan and Zane Sumich spending time training with the main squad.

Fremantle have an alignment with Peel Thunder and often have players from the state league team training with the Dockers.

It is not yet known what the minimum number of players AFL teams will require to ensure games go ahead.

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