Greater Western Sydney'S AFLW team will be the latest national sporting team to relocate to Albury to dodge the worsening COVID-19 situation in the NSW capital.
The Giants confirmed on Wednesday their AFLW team will be heading south from Friday and using the recently redeveloped Lavington Sportsground as its base in the lead-up to the 2021 season starting in late January.
The approval to use Lavington was given by Albury Council chief executive Frank Zaknich, subject to compliance with all existing or new NSW Public Health Orders, with some councillors unaware of the call until media reports surfaced mid-afternoon.
Cr David Thurley expressed some reservations about the decision and was miffed at finding out about the decision after the Giants had issued a media release announcing they were coming to Albury.
"Provided they meet all the relevant health protocols I am comfortable with the decision," he said.
"But given what is happening in Sydney we need to be taking all the appropriate precautions."
Cr Thurley voted against Melbourne Storm coming to Albury based on the health advice at the time.
NSW new coronavirus cases jumped to 18 in the last 24 hours with the state government responding by announcing tougher than originally planned restrictions for New Year's Eve celebrations in the city.
Giants AFLW players who reside in Sydney have to test negative to COVID-19 before departing and once again when they arrive in Albury.
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Players, coaches and support staff will not be entering a quarantine bubble when in Albury and will be subject to the same rules in place for National Basketball League teams, the Sydney Kings and Illawarra Hawks, who are already in the border city.
National Rugby League premiers Melbourne Storm was originally granted permission at a staff level to use the council-managed Greenfield Park as a training base earlier this year before councillors rolled the decision 5-4 at an extraordinary meeting.
Mr Zaknich confirmed council received the initial request to come to Albury on December 27.
"The visit requires strict adherence to NSW COVID-19 and AFL public health protocols, including any new requirements that may apply should circumstances change," he said.
Rugby league official Mike Eden congratulated council staff for making the call.
"The executive of Albury Council allowed the Storm to use their facilities for training before being overturned by councillors," he said.
"Good on them for being consistent."
Melbourne Storm was able to stay in Albury when they were able to train at Albury Sportsground under conditions included in a lease deal between council and Albury Tigers Football-Netball Club.
"The NSW government has done a brilliant job keeping the Northern Beaches cluster under control, but in light of the current border restrictions, we have had to make alternative plans as part of our lead in to the commencement of the 2021 AFLW season," Giants' official Jason McCartney said.
By relocating to Albury for 14 days, the Giants team can satisfy government requirements to enter Victoria, which will then in turn satisfy meet the criteria to travel to Western Australia.
The Giants play Fremantle in Western Australia on January 31.