GREATER Western Sydney's AFLW team has temporarily relocated to Albury as a response to the growing COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney.
States around the country have varying levels of restrictions on travellers from Sydney, and the Giants are fixtured to play Fremantle in Perth on Sunday, January 31, the first round of the NAB AFLW season.
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The Giants will head south on January 1, staying in Albury on the NSW border for two weeks before moving to Melbourne and playing a practice match – believed to be against Carlton, a game that was initially scheduled in Sydney – on the weekend of January 16-17.
They will then be allowed to enter Western Australia two weeks later for their round one match.
It's the only course of action currently available to ensure the season has the best chance of running as planned
While the vast majority of AFL teams lived in hubs during the 2020 season, there are additional difficulties for AFLW teams, given the 'part-time' nature of the competition means players and some staff have external work and study commitments.
All GWS players are expected to make the trip except for utility Lou Stephenson, who is completing the final stages of her training with Fire and Rescue NSW.
Irish duo Cora Staunton and Brid Stack have completed quarantine and will meet the Giants in Albury.
The GIANTS’ AFLW team will temporarily relocate to Albury in southern NSW to ensure the 2021 AFLW competition can begin as scheduled in late January.— GWS GIANTS (@GWSGIANTS) December 30, 2020
?? See you soon Albury!
"The NSW Government has done a brilliant job keeping the northern beaches cluster under control, but in light of the current border restrictions, we have had to make alternative plans as part of our lead in to the commencement of the 2021 AFLW season," Giants head of football Jason McCartney said.
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"While leaving Sydney is far from ideal this close to round one, it’s the only course of action currently available to ensure the season has the best chance of running as planned.
"We thank the AFL and the NSW Government for their support and assistance stepping through a challenging process and we thank the city of Albury for hosting us.
"The incredible commitment and sacrifice our players and staff have shown to enable this relocation cannot be overstated.
"This move is yet another COVID-related challenge but we're looking forward to hitting the road and our players are embracing the opportunity with their sights set firmly on round one."
The Giants previously sent players home for their Christmas break early (18 December), in a bid for interstate players to beat border closures. These players will be able to reunite with their teammates in Albury.