Tigers open to fixture swap, as chaos continues amid Victoria’s lockdown

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Richmond are keen to flip the fixture and return to Perth next weekend to face the West Coast Eagles, as the AFL continues to deal with the fallout from Melbourne’s lockdown.

The Tigers have spent the week training in Sydney but will play Essendon in the Dreamtime clash at Optus Stadium on Saturday night. They are then due to have their mid-season bye but are open to shifting this and remaining on the road, bringing forward by a week their clash with the Eagles, slated to be held as a Thursday-night opener for round 14.

Damien Hardwick.Credit:Getty Images

If the AFL makes the move, the Tigers will return to Sydney to train next week, and then head back to Perth to take on the Eagles.

Tigers skipper Trent Cotchin had been in doubt to face the Bombers because of his ill daughter in Melbourne but arrived with his teammates in Perth on Friday. However, he could also be in doubt for the Eagles’ clash should that go ahead.

The Eagles, who will face Carlton at the SCG on Sunday, had been preparing to have the week off and will also need to agree to any switch.

League chiefs are still mulling over whether to transfer the Queen’s Birthday clash at the MCG to Sydney or Adelaide, with an announcement expected within days.

The Saints are in Sydney ahead of Saturday’s clash against the Swans, one that was transferred from Marvel Stadium and has been flipped with round 21. The Saints are due to face Adelaide in Cairns next Saturday but will remain in Sydney until given clearance by Queensland health authorities to cross the border.

Coach Brett Ratten said the time away could help his team bond.

“We are not exactly sure when we will get to Cairns. It might be Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. We hope to get there and when we do get up there, our focus will be on Adelaide,” Ratten said on Friday.

He said facilities in Sydney were ideal to prepare for the round-13 clash against the Crows.

“There are enough grounds here. You don’t need to change your game-plan too much,” he said.

For all the headlines about a season gone wrong, including an 111-point thumping from the Western Bulldogs, the positive for the Saints is they remain only one match outside the top eight. Admittedly, their percentage (76.4) is poor for a team with five wins and is and well behind the five teams above them with six wins, including seventh-placed West Coast, but there is still much to play for should they topple the Swans.

“We’re 1-10, aren’t we? That’s what it (sounds) like, but what it feels like inside is completely different to what the narrative is outside,” Ratten said.

“We understand the inconsistency of our performances and what we’ve done throughout games, which is not acceptable. But we’re 5-6 and we’ll get a few of these players back in the next few weeks.

“It might be post-bye that we get them back, but for us as a group, we’re not listening to the narrative outside.”

Rowan Marshall (foot) is and Zak Jones (quad) could be about a month away from returning, while Dan Hannebery (calf) and Dean Kent, the latter concussed twice in recent times, have work to do.

Carlton veteran Ed Curnow said the Blues were booked on a charter flight home on Sunday night after their clash against the West Coast Eagles at the SCG. That match was to have been held in Melbourne. The Blues will have a bye next weekend.

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