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Five AFL teams head north; Sydney 'derby' to be played in Brisbane


North Melbourne and Essendon will join a growing list of AFL clubs to head to Queensland as concern grows about the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria.

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Sydney and GWS jumped on a flight out of Melbourne on Thursday morning after being told of their next impending move late on Wednesday night.

The Western Bulldogs, who are due to play Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Saturday, will also depart earlier than planned on Thursday.

But the Victorian exodus is not ending there with the Kangaroos’ match against Essendon on Sunday to be moved from Marvel Stadium to Brisbane.

AAP understands a flight, which will have both clubs on board, will leave Melbourne at 2pm Thursday.

The Bombers are scheduled to play GWS in round 19, before a date with the Swans the following week.

Those games will likely be played in Queensland, especially if the Victorian COVID-19 outbreak worsens.

The Sydney teams were meant to play their derby in Ballarat on Saturday but that is now likely to be played at the Gabba in Brisbane.

Both clubs have been based in Victoria since June 22 due to NSW’s coronavirus crisis but will now call Queensland home for the immediate future.

“About nine o’clock, 9.15 (Wednesday night) there was a conversation with the AFL that this is a possibility because we’re playing the Giants and they’re in the same situation,” Swans chief executive Tom Harley told SEN.

“About five minutes later (players were told). The competition is pretty well-drilled at this now and when you talk about the prospects of Victoria and the COVID situation there, it just provides some flexibility in getting to Queensland.”

The Brisbane Lions arrived in Victoria on Wednesday ahead of Friday night’s clash with Richmond at the MCG.

AFL meetings on Thursday will decide what happens with the remainder of round 18 as exposure sites in Victoria continue to be added.

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