Geelong has a new opponent for this weekend’s AFLW return to GMHBA Stadium, with two AFLW clubs’ COVID-19 concerns leading to a fixture reschedule.
The Cats were expected to host the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night, but the AFL announced Thursday night they would now be taking on Carlton.
The Western Bulldogs had been hit with a COVID-19 outbreak that had seen up to 12 players forced into isolation.
Under league rules, teams must have at least 16 listed players available for a game to proceed, with clubs then able to fill out the match day squad with up to five top-up players.
The Brisbane Lions have also been hit by COVID-19 isolation requirements, which allowed for its original opponent, Carlton, to be slotted into face Geelong.
The Cats had not been fixtured to play Carlton in 2022.
“While COVID-19 continues to impact the competition, the health and welfare of those in our game and the wider community remains the priority,” AFL general manager of competition management Laura Kane said.
“In line with the AFLW’s Covid Match Rescheduling Guidelines – which states a team is required to have a minimum 16 primary-listed players and five train-on players available to play – the league received requests from the Brisbane Lions and the Western Bulldogs Football Clubs which detailed multiple players from each respective Club’s AFLW program had entered AFL Health and Safety Protocols this week.
“As a result, we have updated the round two fixture to ensure teams who were able to play this weekend could play.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and will work closely with both clubs on a revised fixture and, together with the AFLPA, support all players impacted.
“We remain committed to delivering a full season in a safe manner anchored in the advice of respective governments and public health officials.”
Geelong said anyone who had purchased a ticket to the Bulldogs game would have it automatically transferred to the new clash, while Ticketmaster would contact all ticketholders to offer refunds.
The revised fixture means the Cats will still be able to celebrate their first match at Geelong in 2022, with a special Summer Footy Festival on the interactive lawn outside GMHBA Stadium from 5pm.
The festival will feature food trucks, an AFL playground and footy activities, live music and entertainment, a silent disco and other activities.