FORMER Billabong Crows coach Al Austin concedes he would struggle for motivation to play this season if there was no premiership up for grabs.
The Hume league dropped the bombshell decision last week after clubs voted a resounding 9-3 against extending the season into October.
Austin, 31, said he would be reluctant to put his body through the rigours of another season if there wasn't the lure of playing in a flag.
"It does take a fair bit of purpose away from playing, especially for players like me who are 30 plus," Austin said.
"I think most of the younger players would be still happy to have a run around and a kick.
"But if you are like me and it takes you half-a-week to recover after a game it will make it a lot harder to get motivated to play, that's for sure."
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Austin admitted he was surprised by the Hume leauge's call to scrap the premiership this season.
The dual Corowa-Rutherglen best and fairest winner didn't rule out clubs appealing the decision.
"Despite the league's announcement, I think we are still a long way off from not playing for a premiership," he said.
"You would like to think the Hume league has done their homework and have talked to the relevant people higher up the chain before making its decision.
"My personal view is I wouldn't be surprised if clubs appealed the decision if the majority of clubs disagree with not playing for a premiership.
"It's obviously a tough decision to make but with restrictions easing, we still don't know what that is going to look like over the next couple of months."
AFL NSW-ACT released its return to training protocols last week with up to three groups of 10 permitted to train on the same ground.
Training activities will initially be non-contact.
Austin said he was still keen to train for the fitness and social benefits.
"I'll still go to training and have a run around," he said.
"It will be good to do something to keep fit and more than anything catch up with a few people I haven't seen for a while.
"I think we are going to try and train at least once a week but we are still waiting for feedback from all the players because some of them have to travel a fair distance.
"Especially if there is nothing at the end of it."
The Crows made finals for the first time last season since crossing from the defunct Coreen league in 2008.
Austin was a major driving force behind the Crows' rise up the ladder after coaching the club for the past three years.
He was replaced as coach by Jason Kerr this year.