PLAYING as many games as possible in a stop-start season is the main priority for the NAB League.
Greater Western Victoria Rebels talent manager Damian Ross said country teams would return to play this weekend after state government coronavirus restrictions eased in regional Victoria.
It comes after lockdown six was activated on Thursday, throwing last weekend's fixture into chaos. The Rebels will play Gippsland Power in Morwell on Sunday.
It will be their 10th game of the season and their longest road trip.
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"We were meant to play Calder Cannons on Saturday at Highgate but because Melbourne (could) still be in lockdown, we've been able to re-jig the fixture so the country sides can get games in," Ross said.
Ross said helping players get exposure to AFL recruiters was vital on the run home.
He said there were discussions about how the season would play out, including finals being divided into country and metro sections.
The Rebels, who have not won a premiership since 1997, sit second on the ladder with seven wins and two losses.
"We have recognised by the way it's fallen, some teams will play more games than other teams," Ross said.
"It will go back to calculations, ratios of games played/games won.
"I think the way it will play out is you'll maybe see a country conference and a metropolitan conference and that is how the finals will work.
"The weekend of September 18-19 is earmarked for nationals - Vic Country versus Vic Metro - so the weekend of September 12 I think will be a country final and a metro final.
"It hasn't been locked in but as things continue to evolve we're looking at what is going to give the boys the most opportunities as we can, in that timeframe."
Ross said the consistent changes were "incredibly frustrating".
"But unfortunately that is the world we live in," he said.
"We are a little bit fortunate we get the opportunity to play. Any time we come out of a lockdown, the NAB League are able to get a game up and from the boys' perspective that's a great thing.
"This is really the first time we've travelled for the year, we've had a lot of home games."
Ross, in his first season in the top job, said players' emotions were impacted by the ever-changing landscape.
"Boys in their draftable window will be starting to worry about have they been able to be exposed (to scouts), they'll be worried about the continuity of footy," he said.
"We lost another game last week, we'll get a game in this week and we'll hope like hell the next three weeks remain open."
Ross praised head coach David Loader and his team for their ability to "support, educate and help the boys through".
He said the trip to Morwell would give the coaches time to speak with the players collectively and "more importantly" spend one-on-one time with each player.
Parents and guardians' support and willingness to pivot schedules had been appreciated, Ross said.
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