Saints welcome the trip north, but round 12 fixture remains in limbo

St Kilda co-captain Jack Steele said the Saints would welcome the chance to head north in round 12, as the AFL on Tuesday night continued to work through health authority protocols.

Just three days out from the start of the round, the AFL was in crisis talks and clubs were still waiting for certainty in terms of where they would play this weekend.

St Kilda co-captain Jack Steele says his side would welcome the trip north.Credit:Getty Images

This includes the Saints, who were due to host Sydney at Marvel Stadium on Saturday at 1.45pm, but that clash will be shifted to either the SCG or Cairns.

Settling on a venue for that match has become the primary sticking point. Cairns had appeared out of the picture on Monday but was back in contention on Tuesday as Queensland health authorities enforced a rigorous process.

If that match is held in Sydney, there can be a relatively smooth adjustment to the round 21 fixture, given the two clubs were to meet at the SCG but that clash could now be held in Melbourne.

The Saints have spluttered through this season and are in 12th spot but only a game outside the top eight. Steele said a trip north would be beneficial.

“Absolutely. I feel like getting the group closer together and getting a bit of connection back amongst us is going to give us an opportunity to perform better on the field,” he said.

“We will wait and see … I feel that can only help us.”

Sydney could emerge as the epicentre of the AFL this weekend, with two matches, and possibly three, in the Harbour City because of Melbourne’s latest lockdown.

The blockbuster clash between Melbourne and Brisbane on Friday night, originally scheduled for Alice Springs, will now be held either at the SCG or Giants Stadium.

The Saturday twilight clash between Collingwood and Adelaide is due to be played at Adelaide Oval, with league officials optimistic this will go ahead. But South Australian health authorities are yet to provide exemptions for the Magpies to fly in and fly out of the state on game day.

In a weekend where there will be no matches held in Victoria, the Dreamtime clash between Richmond and Essendon had already been shifted from the MCG to Perth’s Optus Stadium.

And the Sunday afternoon clash between Carlton and West Coast, originally scheduled for the MCG, appears set to also be held at the SCG.

The Western Bulldogs are training in Sydney this week and will head to Perth for Sunday’s clash against Fremantle. The Bulldogs have the bye next week, and are keen to have their break at home and not remain in an interstate hub.

“This time we anticipate we are here for only a week. Hawthorn came back (from Sydney) and have gone on their bye,” coach Luke Beveridge said.

This is the first of three bye rounds, so North Melbourne, Geelong, Hawthorn, Gold Coast, Port Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney have the week off. But clubs are bracing for more upheaval in round 13, which also includes the Queen’s Birthday clash between Melbourne and Collingwood at the MCG.

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