St Kilda trains in the rain ahead of today's game.
St Kilda trains in the rain ahead of today's game.

‘Footballers are the exception’: Saints stay criticised

Victoria's Saints may have come marching in to Noosa, but their presence here has been met with a wave of concern and criticism about the effectiveness of the glamour AFL club's quarantine.

Noosa Council stated it had "sought assurances from Queensland Health officials" about the decision to base the St Kilda Football Club AFL team in Noosa as their home state is on COVID-19 lockdown.

"The relocation of the AFL team was a decision made by the State Government in liaison with the AFL Executive," council stated.

"Council will continue to be guided by the advice from health experts and has received the following statement from Queensland Health.

"Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service Public Health Unit is working with the St Kilda Football Club to manage its quarantine and testing requirements for COVID-19 in line with their COVID Safe Plans."

"Under the border entry approval granted by the Queensland Chief Health Officer, the players and team staff can leave the resort by bus to train and play games," council said.

"Players and team staff will not be mixing with the general community during the 14-day quarantine period."

Saints are on the ball in Noosa.
Saints are on the ball in Noosa.

A number of residents had questioned the team's visit, with 58 comments on a council thread as of this morning.

Cindy Johnston asked: "Why bring a footy team from coronavirus state to non-coronavirus state. Our businesses are suffering enough. If we get a second wave that will be the end of a lot of businesses that have struggled back."

Cooroy community leader Rod Ritchie shared his thoughts.

"(On Saturday) they are off to the Gold Coast to play Fremantle," Mr Ritche said.

"Then back here.

"This is not quarantine by any definition of the word."

Gary Thompson said he did not "have a problem" with the Noosa Saints' stay.

"We have all worked very hard to keep our virus at zero for months. Hope they don't screw it up," he said.

Jennifer Dean described the visit as "one rule for some and another rule for many".

"So much for saying our borders are closed to Victoria. But not for footballers … I'd like to see my family and visit my father's grave in Melbourne … but no. Footballers are the exception," she said.

Roxanne Aprile said: "Gee that's a really 'tough' gig for poor St Kilda … meanwhile the rest of the community and Victoria is another story … goodness me."

St Kilda president Andrew Bassat said the move has caused disruption "to the lives of our players, coaches, staff and their families".

"I want to acknowledge the sacrifices they are making for matches to continue, which we know is so pivotal to the overall health of the St Kilda Football Club and the game in general," Mr Bassat said.

"Our entire playing group has chosen to be part of the hub as a commitment to one another."

At least St Kilda fan was Craig Mollison was not concerned by the stay, asking the club if he could attend training sessions.

The club's response was: "We're currently in a 14-day quarantine and can't advise on when/where training is. As restrictions ease, we'll do our best to find opportunities to engage with our Queensland supporters."

There was also a stack of local Saints supporters on the club Facebook keen to catch up with the team in Noosa.