It’s only taken three rounds for COVID to throw up its first challenge of the 2021 AFL season, with the SUNS one of the teams affected by the outbreak in Brisbane this week.
As states around the country close their borders to Queensland, the SUNS were quick to react and have flown to Adelaide this morning on a chartered flight to begin preparations for Round 3.
SUNS GM of Football Jon Haines addressed the media after touching down in Adelaide and said it was important the club remained flexible during this time.
“There’s obviously been some cases in Queensland and first and foremost we want to acknowledge those people who have been impacted back home in Queensland by that,” Haines said.
“The AFL in conjunction with the club felt it was appropriate for the club to get over here a little bit earlier than what we anticipated so we were completely supportive of that and got moving pretty quickly yesterday.”
“We’re planning for multiple contingencies as we have been for the last six or eight weeks.”
The SUNS are scheduled to play the Adelaide Crows on Good Friday before returning home to tackle Carlton in Round 4, but Haines said the club was prepared for a stint on the road if a fixture re-shuffle was deemed necessary by the AFL.
“We flagged publicly and certainly internally in the pre-season that we’d anticipated that at some point COVID would impact the AFL season,” Haines said.
“There were some lessons learnt from the AFLW season and how they handled that so we’ve taken those lessons and we’re open-minded to whatever the options might be.
“Initially obviously our focus is on this Friday and to put all of our energies into that game but if it means we’re here for a period of time we’re excited by that and we’re looking forward to it.”
Despite originally planning to travel on Thursday, Haines said the team’s training program would not be significantly impacted by the change in plans this week.
“What we’ll do now is just replicate the day we would have tomorrow on Wednesday, we’ll replicate that day here in Adelaide.
“Today was planned to be the players’ day off anyway so it becomes a travel day for us.
“The actual impact on the program and the schedule itself is pretty small.”
The SUNS are well-placed in the event an extended stay interstate is required, having brought an extended squad across to Adelaide.
“We’ve brought over 33, we’ve left 16 players on the Gold Coast,”
“Some of those are younger players and some of those are in our rehab group.
“We’ll have a good group of players here for this week but also if the stay becomes a bit longer we’ve got a good group from a training point of view.”
The match against the Crows is scheduled for 6:50pm AEST on Friday night, with the team to be named on Thursday.