West Coast, Fremantle await AFLW instruction after cancelled border opening throws season into turmoil

Headshot of Eliza Reilly
Eliza ReillyThe West Australian
Both the Eagles and Dockers made a huge sacrifice to relocate to Victoria after round one. But what happens now that the February 5 border reopening date has been scrapped?
Camera IconBoth the Eagles and Dockers made a huge sacrifice to relocate to Victoria after round one. But what happens now that the February 5 border reopening date has been scrapped? Credit: Jackson Flindell/The Sunday Times

Fremantle and West Coast are hoping to receive clarity on their uncertain AFLW future within the next 48 hours after the WA Government reneged on their border reopening plan.

Both the Eagles and Dockers made a huge sacrifice to relocate to Victoria after round one on the assumption they would be able to return once the border opened on February 5.

But after the State Government sensationally cancelled the border opening, both clubs are now stranded in Melbourne and will have to undertake two weeks quarantine on return.

The part-time nature of the competition carries extra complexities, with several players, including West Coast captain and firefighter Emma Swanson, booking leave from their full-time jobs until February 5.

A handful of players continue to work remotely.

Both the Eagles and Dockers made a huge sacrifice to relocate to Victoria after round one.
Camera IconBoth the Eagles and Dockers made a huge sacrifice to relocate to Victoria after round one. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The Sunday Times

Given the announcement came late on Thursday night, both clubs made a conscious effort to get through their respective clashes on Saturday but now players and staff face a nervous wait as the AFL work to table a solution.

“We have to work through a few things and work out with the AFL, the police and the WA Government,” Fremantle senior coach Trent Cooper said.

“Our people are working hard back in Perth to work out what it looks like for us not only this week but the next few weeks.”

West Coast coach Michael Prior added: “We’ll worry about that next week as more details come to hand.”

While the Dockers seemingly didn’t let the announcement impact them, defeating Richmond by 30-points, Fremantle midfielder Gabby O’Sullivan admitted it did take a small toll.

“I’m not going to lie and say it wasn’t at the back of our minds but we don’t have any information on what it means,” O’Sullivan said.

Gabby O'Sullivan of the Dockers (L).
Camera IconGabby O'Sullivan of the Dockers (L). Credit: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

“We’ve got the full support of our families, employers and the club as well so whatever happens will happen. Hopefully we can keep playing some good footy and make the most of it.”

While West Coast midfielder Aisling McCarthy said the past two years had prepared players for uncertainty.

“We’ve all learnt to be adaptable and flexible,” she said.

“It’s a curveball but we’re still working through what it means for our group and individuals as well. There will be some challenges but hopefully we can reach the best possible outcome because people obviously have other commitments outside of football as well.”

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