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Blakely locked in for 2020

Swan Districts ruckman Nathan Blakely is back and preparing for football in 2020, with the prospect of an earlier season start date than August 1st as restrictions continue to be eased in relation to the risks of COVID-19.

Blakely was initially likely to step away from football this year due to his profession as a doctor, and the risks of human transmission to teammates through being exposed to coronavirus patients. But now with case numbers dwindling and less risk, the 27-year-old is set to turn out for the black and whites this season.

“Everyone was resigned to the fact there wouldn’t be any football, and I guess with the whole world changing especially Australia going back to being a bit more normal again, I guess I’ve changed my opinion as well as everyone else,” Blakely told Sports Drive on Tuesday.

“The WAFL has put restrictions in place, of course if I have an exposure or anyone gets sick they are welcome to get a swab and are encouraged to get one. I’m sure then there will be protocols not to come to training if you’re unwell.”

Blakely outlined some of the measures his football club was taking to prevent any chance of human transmission of the virus.

“We do have all the social isolation parameters when we’re not on the field, we have to use the hand sanitiser, bring your own water bottles, minimising contact with each other as soon as you step off the oval. I think that’s what we’re going to be seeing for a while,” he said.

“Even though they are bringing back attendance at the AFL, but there will still be the 1.5-2 metre social distancing rule that’s apparent.”

Discussions appear to be underway around moving the season start date forward for the WAFL, as the roadmap to play phases continue to be ticked off.

Phase 3 is currently in operation as of Saturday, allowing clubs to train together as full squads with contact training allowed.

Phase four is yet to be enacted, which will allow for matches to occur. Upon activation of phase five, matches will be able to occur with spectators.

Blakely and his team mates returned to contact training on Monday night, as they prepare for the start of a shortened season.

“The body is a bit sore from the different type of contact that happens. Obviously we have been trying to avoid other people for a few months now so it felt a little bit weird last night to be wrestling with people again.”

“I think a few people were surprised how sore you can get from a basic training session. Training at such high levels all the time you get your body so acclimatised. Even just a normal training session with our minimal stuff last night, I know myself and a few of the other boys were a bit sore today and actually finding it hard to get our gym session.

“That’s what we need to build up over the next six weeks before round one otherwise we won’t be able to get through a season.”

When asked whether the season could start earlier, he was optimistic.

“A few doctors I’ve come across in my line of work, Clay Golledge is one of them and very much for the opening of things right up again, there’s been no community spread for a while.

“We have to believe the experts and I’d be putting my opinion with them.”

Blakely is confident of forming a dynamic forward/ruck partnership with Corey Gault this season, and anticipated it was unlikely the initially scheduled game against Peel Thunder in Bunbury would proceed.

IMAGE: Bunbury Cathedral Grammar website.


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