Richmond on Thursday night flew out to Sydney with a squad of almost 40 players aware they could be on the road for several weeks after spending more than 100 days in Queensland last year.
Hawthorn joined the Tigers on a 6.30pm charter flight to Sydney not knowing when they would be back in Melbourne.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan is still hopeful the league will not be forced to reintroduce hubs as they cautiously await Victoria’s daily Covid-19 numbers.
The Hawks and Tigers will need negative test results before their rescheduled matches in Sydney can be played and will live under the same constraints as locked-down Melbourne citizens — only allowed to leave their hotels to train, play and exercise.
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Noah Balta and his teammates might not be this up close and personal with Tigers fans for some time.Source:Getty Images
Richmond has been told it could play the Round 12 Dreamtime clash against Essendon at Perth Stadium rather than the MCG.
If Victoria’s positive cases continue to spiral, the Tigers could even be sent to Perth for an extra week to take on West Coast in Round 13.
Both Tasmania and Queensland have suggested they could host AFL hubs despite both states closing their borders to Victoria.
It means NSW remains the most likely state for a 2020-style hub, with Canberra’s Manuka Oval, the SCG and Giants Stadium all available for games.
Richmond football boss Tim Livingstone told the Herald Sun the Tigers had taken all of their players except for a handful of injured stars including Tom Lynch and Ivan Soldo.
He said all options were on the table, with the Tigers waiting until Sunday to gain more clarity.
The Hawks have also made a quick exit as Victoria slips further into the grips of Covid.Source:Getty Images
“We have got to have a test on arrival and then once it is negative we will be living by Victorian protocols for the short-term,” he said.
“It depends how long we are there, but we can train and go for walks, but there is no sitting in cafes as far as we know.
“The message from the AFL has been that nothing will be confirmed until Sunday.
“But we will do whatever we need to do. We played Dreamtime at the ’G last year (in Darwin) and it was amazing. So it could be in Perth or Sydney or we could be back in Melbourne.
“The AFL is clear all options remain open so we will get to Sunday and reassess.”
McLachlan said the league hoped to avoid prolonged hubs and said some Melbourne teams, including Hawthorn, still hoped to fly back to Victoria on Sunday.
He said clubs would hopefully only be away from Victoria for two weeks at most before returning home.
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick and his troops know the drill when it comes to hub life.Source:Getty Images
“There is a possibility. Some teams are planning on it, and others using Hawthorn as an example, have the bye and are planning on returning,” he said.
“Some have taken the mindset that they plan on coming back and we are communicating with them as regularly as we can.
“They are not intending to be away for (many) weeks, maybe two games, but we will continue to talk to them.”
Carlton and Essendon flew out of Melbourne to Sydney and Perth on Wednesday.
Tasmania premier Peter Gutwein said he had spoken to AFL boss Gillon McLachlan in the past 24 hours about the Covid-19 outbreak in Melbourne.
Richmond property steward Giuseppe Mamone (right) loads a truck as the Tigers prepare to leave the state. Picture: Michael KleinSource:News Corp Australia
While relocating this weekend’s clash between Hawthorn and Gold Coast to the Apple Isle was not an option because of “broadcasting” issues, Gutwein said he had discussed hosting future matches in the state.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who won praise for saving the 2020 AFL season after hosting Victorian clubs in the sunshine state last year, said she was open to stepping in again.
“We are speaking with the AFL and we are more than happy to take more teams as needed,” Palaszczuk said.
“Just as we did last time with the lockdown in Victoria, we are more than happy to accommodate teams where it is safe to do so.
“A number of teams, from my understanding, from the NRL are moving up here as well.”
Originally published asSkipping town: Where clubs will go if hub life returns
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