AFL anti-vaxxer’s future in doubt

Darling has played his entire career to date with West Coast. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

West Coast Eagles star Jack Darling’s playing future is in doubt after his failure to comply with the AFL’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate led him to be banned from training with his teammates.

In October last year, the AFL announced that players and football staff at WA, SA and QLD clubs had to receive their first shot of an approved Covid-19 vaccine by Friday January 21, and their second by February 18.

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Players at Victorian and NSW clubs are already required to be double-vaxxed.

On Friday morning the Eagles released a statement confirming Darling had failed to comply with the AFL’s Covid-19 training and playing mandates.

The club said it was “optimistic” Darling would soon return to pre-season training but confirmed the premiership-winning forward would be forced to train away from his teammates until he became vaccinated.

Darling had until Friday to receive his first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)
Darling had until Friday to receive his first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

“While Jack will take some time to assess his future he will train independently of the remainder of the squad,” the Eagles said.

“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.

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“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.”

Darling has played 236 games for West Coast since making his senior debut in 2011 and was a member of the 2018 premiership-winning side.

He was the Eagles’ leading goalkicker last season, as well as in 2012, 2018 and 2019, and was named in the 2019 All-Australian Team.

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