ST KILDA coach Brett Ratten has given tentative support to the AFL’s quarantine hub concept but says the Saints will respect the decision of any player who does not want to be part of it.
The AFL has not yet finalised its plan to resume the season but is understood to be weighing up multiple states as potential bases for training, accommodation and matches.
An announcement is expected on May 11, though the issue has not yet been discussed in fine detail with the AFL Players’ Association.
Ratten is equally wary of the mental health challenges that could arise in quarantine hubs and the impact on players’ families if they are to be away for up to eight weeks.
“Somebody could say, ‘It’s too hard for me mentally to leave my wife and kids or not to see my kids’ and we would respect that,” Ratten told SEN on Monday.
“At the end of the day, this is a situation and a season like no other.
“The health of our people and the mental health of our people is first and foremost.
“If that meant somebody said they weren’t playing, we would respect that.”
Ratten said he wanted more detail on the hub concept before giving his definitive support, but is receptive to the plan.
“If people have got to sacrifice a little bit to make the game work, I think we have to do that, but only if we’re all safe and our health is at the forefront of it all,” Ratten said.
“If we have to play in hubs, we have to play in hubs to get the game back on track.
“I’m very open to it, I think a lot of people are, but we haven’t got all the information to make a real definitive comment with it.”
In contrast to Richmond counterpart Damien Hardwick, Ratten is happy to wait for the AFL to deliver its date for a resumption of the season, which was put on hold last month.
He said it was important to finish the 2020 campaign without further interruption once it resumes.
“The AFL are working closely with the government, so I think they’ll come up with the start date,” Ratten said.
“We don’t want to get back and then have to stop the game again.”
Hardwick on Sunday said the Tigers could be up and running within as little as two weeks, but Ratten feels a three or four-week training block would be necessary before the next round of matches.
(C) AAP 2020