Ex-soccer star leads Lions' time trial as clubs return to 'unofficial' pre-season

PLAYERS have returned to a form of unofficial pre-season training following the postponement of the 2022 NAB AFLW season.

Round one is now pencilled in to begin January 6, 2022, with the current COVID-19 outbreaks in Victoria and NSW pushing the starting date back from December.

Players currently have to abide by their respective state government's rules when it comes to "pre-pre-season" training, with clubs running voluntary sessions once or twice a week.

Professional athletes in Victoria are currently permitted to train, while in NSW, professional sport training is considered work which cannot be done at home.

Footballers in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland are not under such restrictions.

The Lions ran their annual time trial last week, with recruit and former W-League player Lulu Pullar crossing first, while former Tiger Phoebe Monahan took out second place despite having to run solo in Melbourne.

Sophie Conway, Nat Grider and Greta Bodey rounded out the top five, with noted runners Orla O'Dwyer (still in Ireland completing her camogie season with Tipperary) and Ruby Svarc not participating.

Reigning premiership coach Craig Starcevich, who bases himself in Basel, Switzerland over the off-season due to his wife's work, will return to Australia in the coming weeks. He has certainly kept his eye in, taking the reins of the Swiss national women's team.

The AFL is yet to confirm the starting date of the official pre-season since the season was moved, but clubs believe the induction period will begin around the start of October, and training to begin two weeks later, as has been the case in years past.