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Family few: Only three players bringing family members to AFL hub

Kelly will be joined inside the Gold Coast hub by partner Caitlin Miller and their three sons. All-Australian Kelly’s much-publicised trade to West Coast last year after two years at Geelong centred around the family’s desire to be closer to their extended family in Western Australia, in particular because two of Kelly and Miller’s children have been diagnosed with autism.

Hickey and wife Chloe have a son Lou, born last August, while Ryan and partner Evana have three young children.

The Dockers have a considerably younger list than West Coast, although four of their players – David Mundy, Nathan Wilson, Michael Walters and Taylin Duman – have children.

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir.

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir.Credit:Richard Wainwright

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir said late last month that the Dockers would consider family members joining the hub later in the stint, which will last for at least four weeks.

“If [staying on the Gold Coast] drags out for a longer period of time than we expect, the families might come over at that period,” Longmuir said.

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Longmuir is himself a father of two, with his children Zac and Ava set to remain in WA with Longmuir’s wife Melissa for now.

Adelaide and Port Adelaide are also set to depart for the Gold Coast this month, although the Crows and Power will remain in South Australia for an extra week compared to their WA counterparts as they will meet in a Showdown at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.

While the AFL Players’ Association briefly feared that all 18 clubs would need to be sent into quarantine hubs in order for the 2020 season to restart after the COVID-19 hiatus, only the SA and WA clubs have ultimately needed to relocate. Adelaide and Port players and selected coaches and staff will be housed at The Mercure resort.

AFLPA chief Paul Marsh said last month that the AFL’s call to cover the costs of players’ families staying inside the hubs proved “critically important” in the union agreeing to the four clubs being shifted to start the season.

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“The players were very clear to us that that was going to be problematic so I’m pleased we’ve been able to work through that with the AFL,” Marsh said.

“It’s still not a perfect solution because we’ve got partners who work and have got kids at school.

“It’s not necessarily automatic that you can just relocate but at least the players now have got an option.”

While the WA clubs are hopeful their stays in Queensland will be limited to four weeks as restrictions are gradually eased around the country, WA’s border remains closed, while both WA and SA have mandatory 14-day quarantine periods for people entering those states, limiting the AFL’s options when it comes to fixturing home matches for the Dockers, Eagles, Crows and Power.

With round one having been played way back in March, the AFL has only fixtured rounds two to five of the remainder of the season for now, leaving options open for the next block of matches in what is a fluid situation. All four of the “hub clubs” have been scheduled to play a “home” game in Queensland over the first block of matches from when the season resumes on Thursday.

Kelly meanwhile sent a scare through the West Coast camp when he limped from training on Friday but Miller posted a video to social media later in the day showing her partner dancing and insisting that he was fine.

Mark Hutchings (knee) and Jarrod Cameron (pelvis) are both unavailable for round two but West Coast’s list is largely healthy ahead of their meeting with Gold Coast on Saturday night.

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