West Coast Eagles forward Jack Darling barred from club after refusing COVID-19 vaccination
LATEST | WA Premier Mark McGowan has questioned West Coast star Jack Darling’s decision not to get vaccinated given it now stopped him from training with the club.
Darling has become the first WA player to refuse to get vaccinated, with the premiership player not allowed at the club until he changes his mind.
Darling was a notable absentee at training on Friday after missing the AFL imposed deadline for players to receive their first dose. McGowan said Darling should reconsider.
“Giving up your football career for that, I don’t think is a wise decision,” he said.
The Eagles released a statement shortly after the players starting training at Mineral Resources Park to confirm the previously speculated belief that Darling was against getting vaccinated.
“Star West Coast Eagles forward Jack Darling has not adhered to the AFL’s COVID-19 training and playing mandates and therefore – under the AFL rules – he will be unable to attend the club’s facility at Mineral Resources Park and by extension any club training sessions,” a statement from West Coast said.
“While Jack will take some time to assess his future he will train independently of the remainder of the squad.
“The club will continue to support Jack as he contemplates his options and is optimistic that he will return to build on his outstanding career to date.
“While the club does respect the right to personal choice it also supports the protocols put in place by the AFL and Governments – both Federal and State – as they navigate their way through this persistent and challenging pandemic.
“Neither the club nor Jack will make any further comment on the matter.”
All WA players were required to have had their first COVID-19 vaccination by today and the AFL mandated they had until February 18 to get their second dose. But the state government requires everyone to be double-vaxed by January 31 to enter fitness facilities.
Midfielder Tim Kelly was also believed to be hesitant but he was in attendance and it has been reported that he received his first dose on Wednesday.
WA players had longer than their counterparts in the eastern states to get vaccinated. Victorian players had to get their first dose by October 22 and be fully vaccinated by November 26 to train.
Carlton’s Liam Jones retired after opting not to get vaccinated and North Melbourne’s Jed Anderson isn’t training at Arden Street.
Players in New South Wales faced a November 19 deadline for the first dose and had to be double-vaxed by December 17.
WA, South Australia and Queensland based players have now joined them as needing to be vaccinated.
The AFL Players’ Association is refusing to comment about Darling’s stance and West Coast officials won’t be speaking either.
The club prepared for match simulation training at Mineral Resources Park with a forward unit that was missing Darling, along with sidelined pair Josh Kennedy and Oscar Allen.
Darling was selected at pick 26 in the 2010 draft and has played 236 games for West Coast since making his senior debut in 2011.
He reached 450 goals during the 2022 season and led the club’s goalkicking for the third time in the last four seasons.
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