AFL nears call on WA clubs' staff request

The Eagles and Dockers will find out in coming days if their request for extra staff's been granted.
The Eagles and Dockers will find out in coming days if their request for extra staff's been granted.

West Coast and Fremantle will learn within days whether their applications to utilise extra football staff while based in Queensland hubs for the AFL season restart are successful.

Under its COVID-19 return-to-play protocols, the AFL has capped football department staff numbers at 25 people who can be in contact with players.

But the Western Australian clubs believe they have legitimate cases for special dispensation as they prepare to reboot the season with a minimum four-week period in a temporary interstate base.

The Eagles and Dockers have argued any players left at home in WA would require attention from extra football staff, and stressed their requests are not about gaining a competitive advantage over their rivals.

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir said he hoped the club would be able to use as many as 30 coaches and support staff in total when the team is based on the Gold Coast.

"When you take 47 players away and live out of a hotel it creates some issues and challenges," Longmuir told Sport FM.

"We need to make sure we resource our playing group and our staff to make sure that this period of time is really beneficial for us.

"If we leave some players back here (in Perth) how are we going to surround them with physios, fitness staff and coaching that will allow them to develop through this period without games on.

"We're still waiting on confirmation from the AFL as to how many players and staff we can take, and if we can take all our players we'll look to do that."

If the AFL approves the WA clubs' requests, they would seemingly have to allow the same concessions to Adelaide and Port Adelaide.

It is believed the Power are also keen to use additional staff while based in Queensland, but the Crows are not.

An AFL spokesperson said on Thursday a decision would be made "in the coming days" - possibly early next week when the WA clubs will be a fortnight away from their temporary relocation.

Adelaide and Port Adelaide will relocate after their Showdown in round two.

Meanwhile, Longmuir has thrown his support behind the push for extended interchange benches of up to six players to be allowed on match days in 2020.

The first-year Dockers coach fears player burnout and increased injury rates when the season recommences, and believes increased benches could go some way towards alleviating those issues.

Longmuir's call came after Sydney superstar Lance Franklin was added to a growing list of players who have suffered soft-tissue injuries since returning to training ahead of the June 11 restart.

"It would be so much easier to get our players up week in, week out if we could just lower their time-on-ground and six on the bench would help do that," Longmuir said.

Australian Associated Press