The NSW Swifts take on the Giants Netball

The NSW Swifts take on the Giants Netball. Credit: NSW Swifts - Twitter

The NSW Netball teams have been placed them in self-isolation, as COVID-19 restrictions has thrown the season into disarray.

Late on Friday, it emerged that the Suncorp Super Netball season is potentially in disarray again, and again due to COVID-19 restrictions. The NSW Swifts and the Giants Netball issued a joint statement that they were assessing their options.

Both NSW-based teams left Sydney on Wednesday 23 June to Queensland in an attempt to get ahead of the lockdown resulting from the spread of COVID-19 cases in NSW.

As the situation evolved, the teams, as well as the Sunshine Coast Lightning rushed to Victoria on Wednesday 30 June as the outbreaks spread to Queensland. The teams had rushed on the basis that they were intending to get to Victoria by 1 am on 30 June before Queensland was declared a hotspot, and the teams would have to quarantine.

The joint statement outlined the position of the NSW-based clubs.

“It was the understanding of both teams their quarantine periods of 14 days would not be reset upon entry to Victoria given they had left Queensland before it was declared a hotspot,” it said.

“However, on arrival they were informed they would have to enter quarantine for an additional two weeks.”

The Swifts and Giants were intending to be based in Melbourne temporarily, as the season, and the Super Netball fixture develops week by week. The Swifts are scheduled to take on the West Coast Fever and the Giants will play the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Round 9.

It is currently unclear what will happen after this round. The previous round was also mired in COVID-19 restrictions after the Fever’s clash with the Melbourne Vixens was cancelled and then postponed due to quarantine issues.

Netball NSW’s CEO Tain Drinkwater also provided a statement about the toll that the restrictions have taken.

“Our teams have already been in self-isolation in Queensland since Wednesday 23 June and weren’t able to properly train at any stage up there given challenges in securing exemptions to do so,” Drinkwater said.

“The players and staff of both teams completely understand the need to remain in isolation until Wednesday 7 July which is two weeks from when they left Sydney, and have made an extraordinary effort to demonstrate their commitment to the SSN competition having to work through such difficult conditions.”

The human toll was captured in a late-night Instagram post by Swifts player Helen Housby, who took a photo of coach Briony Akle embracing her youngest son Xavier, as she has travelled with two of her sons, and left the other two at home with her husband.

“Our players have been unable to properly prepare for games, and our coaches and staff with children have also had to leave home with only two hours notice last month and remain in extended isolation,” Drinkwater said.

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While the Vixens and the Collingwood Magpies have been helpful in assisting the Swifts and Giants getting settled as best they can, it remains a concern that the NSW teams cannot prepare properly. The circumstances have the potential to affect the NSW teams’ abilities to perform to their best in the Super Netball.

It is not unfamiliar territory for the Giants, after their trip to Perth was upended by a requirement under health advice to be in hotel quarantine for the duration of their stay in Western Australia.

Giants Defender April Brandley made the decision earlier in the season to return home from Perth before playing, as it was too difficult to prepare for the game and care for her 15-month-old son Clay.

“We understand the delicate and difficult situation that COVID-19 presents for everyone, and we are committed to working with Netball Australia to come up with a satisfactory solution that balances the needs of our players, coaches and staff,” Drinkwater said.

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