Clubs will return to training over the course of three calendar periods.
The AFL has today confirmed that clubs will start training again as part of a three stage process that will see first, second, third, and fourth-year players return to training on Monday 7th of December for two weeks.
All other players will resume training on Wednesday 6th January 2021, for a six-week block of training, ending on Saturday 13th February.
This will then be followed by a final four-week block of training starting on the 14th February until the start of the AFL season, which we’re guessing will start in early March.
The second and third blocks of training will include those players to be selected in the 2020 national draft and will give teams a chance to get their squads fit and ready for the opening round of the AFL 2021 season.
Pre-season fixtures will be announced in due course, and fingers crossed, come February next year we will see a relaxation in the restrictions around COVID-19 across Australia, hopefully allowing more fans to attend the game next year.
This slightly delayed schedule from what we have seen in previous years should give the Eagles a good enough rest period should they make it all the way to this year’s grand final on the 24th October.
“The three-part model we have put in place ahead of the 2021 season takes into account the late end to the current season and factors in feedback from Clubs on their preferred pre-season structure.”Steve Hocking, AFL General Manager of Football Operations.
With a lot of players like Luke Shuey, Mark Hutchings, and Jeremy McGovern all suffering serious soft tissue injuries this year, this time off will give these players a chance to recover and get their bodies back to full fitness.
And after a late finish this season, the AFL has worked extensively with the AFLPA and clubs to ensure player welfare is taken into account as they start preparing for next year.
“This model will ensure players have minimal interruptions to training, following the new year break, which is optimal for maximising player preparation ahead of next season.”Steve Hocking.
With the high intensity condensed fixture cram in the Queensland hub this year, the Eagles have been scrambling for all the recovery time they can get, with many players going into games running on empty tanks and playing on with some pretty bad knocks.
There’s no doubt that this extended and staged return to training will give the Eagles the recovery time they need to recuperate from what has been a very intense season.