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.
If footy does come back in 'hubs', which team is the flag favourite?
Niall Seewang: I think it might further enhance the mature lists that were already firmly in flag contention - Richmond, West Coast, GWS and Collingwood. Premierships are often won by teams that best overcome adversity and challenges, and this year will throw players and staff the biggest curveballs they've ever experienced. So I think the clubs with the strongest leaders and most mature lists will cope better than the young'uns.
Jake Michaels: West Coast was my pre-season premiership pick but I certainly wouldn't feel as strongly about the Eagles if we move to hubs, as their home ground advantage is effectively wiped out. No doubt Richmond will be hard to beat, regardless of whatever scenario the AFL opts for, so as a safe bet I think Damien Hardwick's team should be favourite.
Matt Walsh: It's gotta be the Eagles, doesn't it? They're so used to travelling -- up to 14 times a year -- that playing in a hub would be amazing for their bodies and recovery. I thought they were a lock for a spot in the top four before the season began, but if hubs are how the AFL proceeds in 2020, West Coast has to be the favourite.
Do you sympathise with players who are considering standing down from the hubs?
NS: Without a doubt, yes. I understand the AFL and clubs are reeling financially from this shutdown, and allowing partners and children to join the hub set-up will only add to the overall cost. But there will be a substantial percentage of players who won't be comfortable -- or will flat-out refuse -- to spend such a long time away from their families and friends, especially those with young children. I'd caution the AFL against overlooking the potential mental health toll on the playing group if they force them to go it alone.
JM: Absolutely! Players have every right to be feeling ticked off. There are growing calls for football to return, but if it comes at the cost of 800 people having to spend weeks, maybe months, away from their families, is it really worth it? It's hardly fair, especially after the players have all just taken considerable pay cuts. Don't restart the competition until we aren't compromising anyone's well-being, be it physical or mental health.
MW: Yes, and a fair compromise might need to be that players can bring their families for the duration of any such hub. Logically, Gold Coast seems like a great fit with -- what I can only imagine -- thousands of empty and unused serviced apartments and hotel rooms around the city. It's not perfect -- no solution will be -- but it's better than asking players to spend weeks on their own without partners and children.
Which AFL player or team would best suit a "The Last Dance" style documentary?
NS: The Gary Ablett (Snr.) story would be fascinating. Not only is he in the mix as the game's greatest ever, but he's famously media-shy, so any expansive insight into the man would be must-watch TV. Ablett's exploits on and off the field are well documented, but fans and media have never really been allowed to peek behind the curtain of Ablett's roller-coaster life.
JM: Given "The Last Dance" is centered around basketball's greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, it's only fitting any AFL equivalent should do the same. Wayne Carey is considered by many to be the best footballer who ever lived, and it's fair to say plenty happened during his playing career! From premierships to off-field scandals, it would be a documentary for the ages, one which would have all footy fans hooked.
MW: I don't think there's a more interesting bunch of successful people than those in the mid-2000s Eagles. We know a few details about the team that won the flag in 2006 and lost to the Swans in 2005, but there would be so much more worth uncovering from those two years alone that would be truly fascinating. From Cousins, to Judd and the strained relationship that led to his move back to Melbourne, to characters like Daniel Chick, Adam Hunter and Dean Cox ... I'd watch that doco.
Should Ken Hinkley be given another year at Port regardless of what happens in 2020?
NS: Unless Port fall to the bottom four this year, I'd give Hinkley another year. I know both parties have stated it's finals or bust for the coach, but this year will be so out-of-the-box that adhering to previously accepted goals will be just about impossible. A one-year deal will allow the club to gain a much clearer picture as to whether he's the man who can lead them to a flag.
JM: If after Port Adelaide's heartbreaking loss to Hawthorn in the 2014 preliminary final you had told me the Power would not win a final for at least six more years, I simply wouldn't have believed it. Whether you blame Hinkley or not, there's no denying Port has underachieved in the last five or six seasons. I wouldn't be giving him another contract unless a finals place is attained - that's the absolute minimum.
MW: It's been well documented that Hinkley had to make finals in 2020 in order to keep his job, but it would be harsh (and almost cruel) if Port's coach was shown the door if his side misses finals in a shortened, disjointed and frankly bizarre season. Kochie, give the man some job security now.