GARY Ablett and Shane Edwards will need to wait until the last round of the season for a finals tune-up after being denied their wish of an early flight from Victoria to Queensland.
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Instead, the Geelong and Richmond stars will board the final AFL flight bound for Queensland on September 1 to begin their 14-day quarantine.
It will ensure they’re allowed to re-join their teammates from September 15, with the final round of the home and away season – which is yet to be scheduled – to run approximately from September 17-20.
Geelong will tackle Sydney, while Richmond faces bottom-placed Adelaide in round 18.
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It remains to be seen whether the AFL will schedule a pre-finals bye like it has in recent seasons.
Ablett and Edwards had been hoping for a departure as soon as this week to allow them to start their quarantine early and be eligible to play as soon as round 16.
However, their request was knocked back by the Queensland Government, due to the pair’s training requirements and the view that they would only be allowed to quarantine in a hotel room.
Ablett departed the Cats’ travelling party after round seven to return to Victoria to be with his wife Jordan and son Levi, who is battling a rare degenerative illness.
The 36-year-old, in his final AFL season, has been training in Victoria with former Cat and premiership teammate Andrew Mackie.
“While Gary and the club are disappointed, we understand the importance of staying diligent in the fight against COVID-19,” Cats head of football Simon Lloyd said.
“The Queensland Government and health officials have been first class throughout this time in supporting clubs and the game.
“Gary had important family matters that required him to return home. We were fully supportive of that decision.
“Gary will continue to train before coming into Queensland on 1 September. We look forward to Gary and his family joining us once the quarantine is complete.”
Edwards opted not to fly with his teammates to Queensland after round five in order stay home with his pregnant wife who gave birth earlier this month.
Tiger Bachar Houli also stayed in Victoria after round five before heading to Queensland late last month.
Despite being eligible to play last week, Houli completed a further week of training and will play his first match since round five against Essendon in the Dreamtime clash on Saturday night.