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AFL locks in rest of round 19 fixture 

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AFL locks in rest of round 19 fixture

The remaining pieces of the AFL‘s round 19 fixture puzzle are in place, with a double-header locked in for Gold Coast‘s Metricon Stadium.

The Essendon-GWS meeting has been confirmed for a 6.10pm bounce following the Sydney-Fremantle match, which starts at 12.30pm.

The heavyweight Geelong-Richmond clash will be played at the MCG at 3.20pm after the Cats’ bid to have their home match switched to GMHBA Stadium was rejected by the AFL earlier this week.

Essendon are temporarily based at Noosa, having been relocated from Melbourne to Queensland last week.

They are likely to spend at least three weeks on the road, with upcoming opponents GWS and Sydney also in Queensland.

‘Our prep’s been as good as it can be,’ Bombers coach Ben Rutten said on Wednesday ahead of the Giants clash, which will have a big say in determining both sides’ finals prospects.

‘We had a few bigger days last week with travel and all that, so it’s been a bit of a lighter start to this week.’

The Swans and Giants had a win this week when the families of players and staff were approved to join them in their Queensland hub.

But the travelling group of about 100 will be largely restricted to their rooms during their 14-day quarantine period, under tightened Queensland government restrictions.

Meanwhile, West Coast star Andrew Gaff believes clubs might start implementing some of their own COVID-19 restrictions in order to avoid players being forced to isolate during the AFL finals.

A number of high-profile players including GWS star Toby Greene, Bulldogs gun Josh Dunkley and St Kilda ruckman Rowan Marshall have been forced into 14-day quarantine after attending COVID exposure sites.

Missing two games so late in the season has been a huge blow to their respective sides.

But the prospect of it occurring during the finals could convince clubs to impose their own rules on places players can and can’t visit.

‘We haven’t had an official chat from anyone as yet, but it should be pretty obvious to guys what they can and can’t do,’ Gaff said.

‘Just be smart about the busy scenarios over here because in the end you could miss one or two weeks at an important part of the year.

‘It’s a bit of a lesson and a reminder for the guys to perhaps avoid some of that.

‘We still need to live our lives … but avoiding those super busy places is probably the way to go at the moment, otherwise you run the risk of not playing for a couple of weeks.’

Fremantle veteran David Mundy believes players will quickly adjust their movements in the wake of several stars being thrust into quarantine.

‘I think guys are fully aware of it and adjusting their behaviour accordingly,’ Mundy said.

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