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Week on the Punt: AFL & NRL to proceed despite coronavirus

Gill McLachlan AFL news

While major sporting leagues worldwide are shutting down due the coronavirus outbreak, a few of Australia’s top divisions are pushing through and giving the public what they want. Here are the big talking points in sport this week.

AFL opening round to go ahead as usual

Australian Football League CEO Gillon McLachlan made a big call on Wednesday night when he announced the 2020 AFL Premiership season would go ahead. There will be no crowds and the matches will be shorter, but we will still get to see some footy.

Previews for the Richmond vs Carlton, Western Bulldogs vs Collingwood and GWS Giants vs Geelong games are live now on We will also cover Sunday’s clash between Hawthorn and the Brisbane Lions.

AFL Round 1 will see plenty of young talent on display, with many clubs announcing debutants on their main social media accounts.

Kevin Durant tests positive to coronavirus

Kevin Durant, one of the biggest names in the NBA, has been struck down with coronavirus.

Durant and three of his Brooklyn Nets teammates have tested positive to COVID-19, but the NBA is already in lockdown and the affected players are expected to make a full recovery within the next two weeks.

The NBA has been suspended for over a week now and the league is yet to give any indication of a possible return date beyond the 30-day minimum hiatus.

AFLW to cut straight to finals

The AFLW 2020 season was on the chopping block, but the girls have been given a chance to play out their finals campaign in a three-week schedule.

The eight-team series will feature to top four sides from each conference: North Melbourne, GWS Giants, Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns from Conference A, and Fremantle, Carlton, Melbourne and Collingwood from Conference B.

The first four matches will see North Melbourne host Collingwood, Fremantle against Gold Coast, GWS hosting Melbourne and Carlton against Brisbane.

NRL presses on as players face pay cuts

Many sporting leagues are closing shop and preparing for a long break, but the NRL may struggle to survive an extended layoff.

Australia’s premier rugby league competition is powered by broadcast rights and sponsorship agreements, so any period where those obligations are not being meet could have a serious impact on the NRL’s coffers.

Some NRL players – notably Manly front-rower Addin Fonua-Blake and West Tigers centre Joey Leilua – have made it public that their wages should not be cut even if games are cancelled, but most clubs cannot afford those salaries without matchday revenue.

The gravity of the situation was underlined when ARLC chairman Peter V’landys demanded a bailout from the federal government – a move that did not go down well with the Australian public.

Daniel Ricciardo expecting strong package from Renault

With the constant worry that Daniel Ricciardo could walk away from Renault, the team has left the door ajar for another big name, Sebastian Vettel.

Ricciardo could move to Ferrari if his contract with Renault does not match with his priorities, as the Australian star knows he is in a position of power.

As well as Vettel, other Formula 1 drivers coming out of contracts include Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

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