There's no action on the field but there's still plenty to debate during the shutdown. Our AFL experts answer some of the burning questions.
Which player would be training hardest in isolation?
Niall Seewang: It's all guesswork, really, with some players no doubt happy to put their feet up but but some wouldn't be able to sit still. Thinking of players who appear to thrive on hard work, I'd suggest Jack Viney might still be going super hard in isolation. We already know he's an animal in the gym, and if his Round 1 performance is anything to go by, it looks like he may have a point to prove after losing the captaincy to Max Gawn.*Explicit lyrics*
Jake Michaels: Would or should? The talented yet underperforming Eric Hipwood could be the difference between Brisbane being just another top eight team or a genuine premiership contender. The Lions forward needs to be pumping as much iron as possible and practising his set-shot goal kicking on a daily basis during the AFL's hiatus.
Matt Walsh: Geez if we're talking about the best rig in the AFL it has to be Marcus Adams. You just know the Brisbane big man is spending plenty of time working on his bicep curls, chest press game, and keeping those glutes in order. If there's one bloke who's going to go into Round 2 ripped, it's him.
Is Pat McAfee the AFL's best ever marketing tool in the U.S.?
NS: No question. Despite the AFL trying to push into overseas markets, it's still almost completely unknown outside of Australia. But McAfee, a former NFL draftee, made headlines across Australia and America when he discovered the AFL during the coronavirus shutdown, shouting his excitement from the proverbial rooftops on his podcast. I'd be staggered if the AFL wasn't already in discussions with him in the hope of growing the game further in the States.
JM: The AFL is never going to be a truly global game but McAfee has helped grow the sport more in the United States in the past three weeks than the actual league has managed in the past 100 years. Sure, the interest has been assisted by an unprecedented lack of sport but if he's encouraging others to watch, and they do, it's only growing the audience. The AFL will take that.
MW: He's done wonders for promoting the game in the United States, and has comfortably outdone anything the AFL has tried to do off its own bat. I still personally think there's little need to 'expand' into the U.S. -- after all , it's Australia's game -- though if and when that GWS vs. Essendon game gets up and running in California, Gillon McLachlan will know who to call...
Where would the best location be for an "AFL Island" competition?
NS: This bizarre season now sounds like an episode of Survivor! But it appears the AFL is serious about getting its season back on track via a centralised hub. I think Tasmania could be the answer. There are three excellent ovals at different corners of the state (Blundstone Arena in Hobart, Launceston's UTAS Stadium, and the more boutique West Park Oval in Burnie) which could host three separate groups of six teams. Or maybe the gravel footy ground at Queenstown? Just kidding...
JM: I'm not even going to answer this, it's a horrible idea. Get everything in order before we worry about bringing the AFL back. All it will take is one asymptomatic player, coach, umpire or media member and before we know it the entire league will be infected. I'm missing sport and the AFL as much as anyone but this is not the answer.
MW: Well, it probably can't be a home ground for any of the current teams, and the AFL probably won't be choosing anywhere in Queensland given the heat at different times of the year, so I'm going to throw up the idea of North Hobart. We saw in preseason what a picturesque ground it is, and it should play neutrally to ensure no team has an unfair advantage.
What are your thoughts on a potential class action lawsuit against the AFL regarding concussion?
NS: It's so difficult to tell from the outside but my gut feeling is the AFL is doing a lot to mitigate the risks of concussion - but maybe that's still not enough. Certainly there is talk of a lack of concern for long-retired footballers who are battling concussion effects, hence the threat of a class action lawsuit. It's a major issue for any contact sport and the AFL has to be at the forefront of it.
JM: If you want to play football professionally, you need to be aware of the associated and potential risks. In recent years, the AFL has been a leader in raising concussion awareness and I don't believe they should be facing any sort of lawsuit. However, the league could look at offering improved medical assistance to players long after they've retired.
MW: I tend to agree with players who believe the AFL is leading the way in concussion research in Australia, and that athletes should understand there's an inherent risk playing a contact sport. Sure, back in the day rules were looser when it came to head-high contact, but at the time, no one -- players included -- would have had an idea of the effects felt later in life. I'm not sure any lawsuit would achieve anything but line the pockets of people who knowingly got paid a decent wage to play a contact sport.