Fremantle flying low
Fremantle has been assured by AFL authorities that they will not have their travel plans interrupted ahead of an important clash with Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday.
It is understood the Dockers have been guaranteed a flight to Melbourne on Friday as usual, two days before a bid to end an MCG hoodoo of nine straight losses.
The AFL also moved to safeguard travel for Hawthorn’s “home” game in Launceston against Gold Coast on Saturday.
The league announced that both clubs will head to Tasmania on Thursday.
“Due to current weather conditions relating to the recent volcano eruption in South America, Hawthorn and Gold Coast will now both travel to Launceston tomorrow afternoon, Thursday June 16, to ensure they are in place well before the game is scheduled,” a league statement declared..
“The AFL is also continuing to monitor the forecasts for Perth and travel arrangements for Fremantle (to Melbourne for its match against Melbourne on Sunday) and for Port Adelaide (to Perth for its match against West Coast on Sunday).
“At this time, there has been no change to the arrangements for either Fremantle or Port Adelaide.
“The AFL is not considering alternative travel plans for any other club this weekend.”
Fremantle’s flight, which will carry highly regarded midfielder Michael Barlow back into action for the first time in almost a year, will be at low level altitude if needed to avoid the dangerous volcanic ash playing havoc with Australian air travel.
Fremantle’s travel assurance is a rare win in road trip arrangements for the Dockers and coach Mark Harvey, who constantly sprouts his concerns at wear and tear on his troops with their intense interstate commitments.
The Dockers and arch rivals West Coast Eagles travel more than any other AFL outfit across every premiership season.
Fremantle have lost their last nine ventures on the MCG, including this season’s Round 7 loss to Richmond and last September’s 69-point semi-final trouncing from Geelong.
The seventh-placed Dockers with six wins and five losses have already accounted for Brisbane in Round 1 and Adelaide a fortnight later on the road this season.
Reports raged through AFL circles on Wednesday that league officials were considering a contingency for teams heading to Melbourne for Round 13 matches at the weekend had been informed of plans to travel at least a day earlier than usual.
It is understood that alternate plan was only one of several options being considered by AFL football operations.
Fremantle, Adelaide Crows, Hawthorn, Richmond, Sydney and Port Adelaide are on the road for away matches in Round 13.
The Dockers will travel from midday Perth time on Friday and train in Melbourne on Saturday as usual.
Barlow, 23, will make one of the game’s more highly anticipated returns in recent times when he runs back onto the league’s most hallowed turf on Sunday afternoon after his full recovery from a horrifically broken leg in Round 14 last year.
He replaces reigning Dockers fairest-and-best winner David Mundy who suffered a shocking ankle injury last week against Essendon and faces up to two months on the sidelines.