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Vic virus crisis means six AFL clubs will spend season in Queensland

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Six Victorian AFL clubs are set to spend the rest of the season in a Queensland hub due to the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne.

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Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed on Friday that the state would host the six Victorian sides, reported to be St Kilda, North Melbourne, Essendon, Western Bulldogs, Richmond, and Carlton.

Western Australia and NSW are also set to host hubs as the AFL moves quickly to get Melbourne-based sides out of Victoria.

“Essentially Queensland is going to be the home of the AFL, they should give us the grand final after this,” Palaszczuk told reporters on Friday.

“Four teams are going to be on the Gold Coast and two on the Sunshine Coast.

“There will be a lot more matches at the Gabba and Metricon and of course our capacity is 50 per cent of the public being able to go see these sports stars in action.

“(They’ll be here) for the rest of the season is my understanding.”

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge expected his side to head to either the Gold Coast or WA – as they have already played both Sydney teams – but was unsure whether they would leave early or late next week.

“We expect that (news) today … by the end of the day I think we’ll probably know where we’re going,” Beveridge told reporters on Friday.

Beveridge said the Bulldogs players were excited about heading into the hub, though they would be supported if they elected to stay in Melbourne.

“The difficult thing, I think for everyone who’s going to a hub is just leaving their families behind,” he said.

“I think we’ve got eight dads and the boys will make decisions on whether or not (they go).

“We’d love to take everyone with us, we’ll definitely take all our players.

“We’re hoping to be able to take partners and young children if that’s what the choice is – but there might be one or two who may not be able to go and that’s fine and so we’ll work through that.

“But I think everyone’s probably looking forward to it more than anything, and continuing on with the season and it probably eliminates a lot of the risk, back here.”

Players from seven clubs who live in Melbourne’s COVID-19 hot spots have temporarily moved out their homes to avoid being banned from entering NSW.

The Bulldogs had to relocate seven players and three staff members to a combination of staff member houses, hotels and Airbnbs.

As of Thursday night, Carlton and St Kilda were still in the dark about where and when they will relocate, though coaches David Teague and Brett Ratten both said they were excited at the prospect of a temporary move interstate.

St Kilda were set to play Geelong at Marvel Stadium next Thursday night.

The Blues are due to host Sydney at the MCG in round six, but that match appears unlikely to be played in Melbourne due to the NSW Government urging its residents not to travel to Victoria.

There will not be a hub in South Australia, with SA Health Minister Stephen Wade ruling out the concept on SEN radio on Friday.

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