Players have already taken a pay cut of 50 per cent because of the financial destruction COVID-19 has wreaked.
“The points he (Cotchin) made were very much around family and that has been an issue we have spoken with the AFL about over the last couple of months,” Marsh said.
“Our position on this has been that the players have to have the right to choose whether they enter the hub or not based on their own individual circumstances and we expect the industry to respect the decision of any player if they have made that choice.
“Clearly, it’s our priority and the priority of the wider industry to ensure that the health, safety and well being of players is prioritised, and that is not just keeping them safe from the virus and also any risk on the field. It is also their well being and their family’s well being which is really important.”
Families are able to join players in the hub but they, too, may have to quarantine depending on the protocols in place in a state.
The Tigers have already had their round five clash against the West Coast Eagles on the Gold Coast postponed because of the Queensland government’s concerns over Victoria’s rising coronavirus infection rates and will instead face Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday.
The AFL may need to send teams away – two per destination – for weeks on end, creating mini-hubs across Australia, to ensure an already truncated home-and-away season is completed.
This will mean players could have to spend significant time away from their families, and Cotchin, with a young family of his own, said this could mean some opted not to go.
“I think it’s going to be a challenge. Every person in our footy club – no doubt our footy club will be there and will want to partake and do what we need to do to continue the season,” he said.
“But there are going to be a number of individual cases and scenarios, we have got guys with pending babies, other challenges, things going on in their life that we will have to just manage accordingly and that will be something that we manage inside the club to make sure everyone is comfortable and happy.
“I think the most important thing is that our partners feel supported and have the required help that is going to be needed with players and coaches and staff going to be away for a period of time.”
Asked is this meant there could be players who opted out, he replied: “That would be a genuine chance”.
The West Coast Eagles have struggled to deal with being in a hub on the Gold Coast and are winless in three matches. Marsh said there were “little bits and pieces” that could be learnt from the Eagles’ experience but said they had been looked after well.
AFL Coaches Association chief executive Mark Brayshaw said coaches had been offered the opportunity to not go into a hub and pull out of a club’s group of 25 mandated officials allowed to join the team.
“All the clubs have said to all of their staff … it’s optional and if you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to, because we have many more staff than we have spots,” he said.
“That’s, obviously, not terribly optional for the senior coach but the further you get away from him, there is flexibility. You can’t replace a player as easily as you can replace a coach. But I couldn’t name a coach that has accepted that offer – I think they have all said yes.”
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.