Port, Crows flee SA, Marshall in isolation

Rowan Marshall (c) has joined the list of AFL players in quarantine after attending a rugby Test.
Rowan Marshall (c) has joined the list of AFL players in quarantine after attending a rugby Test.

Adelaide and Port Adelaide fled South Australia as star St Kilda ruckman Rowan Marshall was forced into quarantine on a day of high drama in the AFL.

In a topsy-turvy few hours in which plans were made, changed, cancelled and made again, the AFL finally settled on flying Adelaide and Port Adelaide to Victoria following the announcement of South Australia's seven-day lockdown.

Port Adelaide were originally set to host Collingwood at Adelaide Oval on Friday night, with the Crows to host Hawthorn at the same venue the following night.

But those matches will now be played at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

The AFL had considered numerous alternatives, with the prospect of a Showdown between Port Adelaide and Adelaide in the planning at one point before that idea was quashed by the SA State Government.

"We had not been able to secure an exemption for the SA-based teams to train over the next week and this afternoon we were informed that the SA Government could not provide permission for any games in Adelaide to go ahead on the weekend," AFL fixture boss Travis Auld said.

"As a result, it was clear that the two SA-based teams would not be able to continue in the competition without relocating from South Australia to Victoria.

"Our decision-making changes as circumstances change and we understand how difficult it is for everyone, however when it was determined that we couldn't play a game in SA at all, it forced our hand."

Adelaide wasn't the only place experiencing COVID chaos.

St Kilda staff and players were forced to isolate in their hotel rooms in Perth for more than 15 hours after Marshall discovered he had been to a Tier-one COVID exposure site in Melbourne last week.

Marshall and teammate Darragh Joyce headed to last week's Wallabies Test against France at AAMI Park in Melbourne before going to the Precinct Bar after the game.

The pair will miss Saturday's clash against West Coast and won't be able to leave isolation until July 27.

Joyce didn't travel with the team to Perth but Saints players were forced to isolate in their rooms once Marshall's link to the COVID exposure site was discovered.

Saints players were eventually given the all clear to exit their rooms and train as a team.

The AFL is bracing for the possibility of more players being ordered to isolate as a result of the growing number of exposure sites in Victoria.

The Western Bulldogs, Sydney, GWS and Essendon have already had key players forced into quarantine

Josh Dunkley (Bulldogs), Callum Mills (Swans) and Toby Greene (GWS) headline the star players who will need to miss multiple matches after going to the rugby union Test.

Injured Port Adelaide midfielder Tom Rockliff was puzzled by the proposed move of his team from Adelaide to Victoria.

"It's come about pretty quick. Just trying to comprehend the reason for leaving a city in lockdown, to go to another city in lockdown," Rockliff told Triple M Adelaide before a final decision was made.

"Obviously the AFL want to push on and that's completely understandable, all players are willing to do that, but at what cost?

"Maybe we need to take a deep breath for a week, let everyone settle down."

The AFL has already swapped three matches scheduled for round 20 to this coming weekend to avoid some complexities of the coronavirus situation.

The league wants to push through as planned until the end of the season but does have a bye scheduled before the start of the finals.

Australian Associated Press