Dayne Zorko wants the AFL to put player welfare first. Picture: Getty Images
Dayne Zorko wants the AFL to put player welfare first. Picture: Getty Images

Players first: Captain’s warning for AFL

Brisbane Lions captain Dayne Zorko has urged the AFL to put players' physical and mental welfare first, warning that a compressed season and an enforced Sydney lockdown could be to the detriment of the game's stars.

The AFL is exploring a number of options to restart the 2020 season, including playing through until December with a potential Grand Final played on New Year's Eve.

The governing body is also considering playing fixtures on a Wednesday and even daily games played during the July period, which was previously occupied by the Olympics.

 

 

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Dayne Zorko warns that a compressed season could be detrimental for the game’s stars. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Dayne Zorko warns that a compressed season could be detrimental for the game’s stars. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

 

Zorko said he was keen for the AFL season to resume from its COVID-19 hibernation but the new-look format had to consider the player's physical and mental wellbeing.

"The important thing will be about recovery and putting players' safety first," Zorko said.

"As players, we have to make sure we're very diligent what we do around our rehab stuff and preparing to play off those short turnarounds because there's no doubt there will be injury.

"You will fall into an injury bracket at some point.

"Your body will be fatiguing and it's important that … you're looking after yourself as best as possible."

The 31-year-old said a regular four or five-day turnaround between games would be pushing the body to its limits and called for players to be given a longer break.

"A four (day turnaround) would be extremely tight," he said.

"Five days, we've had a couple of those in the past few years, they're certainly doable. "Whether you could do that consistently, I don't think that's possible.

"You could probably squeeze out one four (day turnaround) and then a seven-day break. (I) don't have an issue with that.

"Backing up four or five days in a row would certainly be pushing the body to its limits and stretching the lists."

Similar to the NRL, the AFL is considering the possibility of forcing clubs into an isolation bubble, where players remain in the one state to avoid the 14-day quarantine protocol from travelling interstate.

Zorko admitted he didn't have a set opinion on whether a bubble should go ahead, but said it would be difficult for players with families.

"It would be very difficult for guys with families, potentially being away from them for six weeks or so," he said.

"If it needs to be done to get the season underway then it's potentially something we can look at, but I'd hope that the AFL and the clubs could make that as a last resort.

"There's so many families at the moment with pregnant wives. Hopefully it's a last resort."

Originally published as Players first: Captain's warning for AFL


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