The Western Bulldogs are bracing themselves for another stint under strict COVID-19 protocols as they prepare to take on fellow AFL flag aspirants West Coast.
Reeling from a gut-wrenching five-point defeat to Geelong on Friday night, the Bulldogs will fly to Perth on Sunday and spend most of the week in hard quarantine at Joondalup Resort.
It is a shift from the previous plan, which was to prepare for the WA trip in Sydney, as the Dogs had done before a win over Fremantle in round 12.
Players were to be given time off in the harbour city after missing out during last week's bye period.
But fresh coronavirus cases in Sydney in recent days forced a re-think of the schedule amid changing interstate travel restrictions.
The Bulldogs' travelling party, including a squad of about 27 players, will now be confined mostly to their hotel at Joondalup before taking on the Eagles at Optus Stadium on June 27.
They will have access to the match venue for training purposes.
After the loss to Geelong, Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge warned the shifting circumstances were taking a toll on clubs, players, staff and their families.
"Pre-game, there was a lot of organisation that went into going to New South Wales amongst everyone, with family and friends and with each other," Beveridge said.
"For it all to be shut down and now with the probability that the AFL are going to want us to be under tight restrictions somewhere to be able to play the West Coast Eagles - that compared to having a few days off and refreshing (in Sydney) is pretty extreme.
"The operatives at the AFL are really trying to help but the executives have got this really clinical approach to their decision-making around whether games just need to go ahead no matter what.
"The circumstances are a bit different this time than what they have been ... what we've all got to be careful of is telling people that they have to go and stay somewhere and that they can't leave."
The Bulldogs are scheduled to take on Marvel Stadium co-tenants North Melbourne in round 16, but details around that fixture are yet to be confirmed by the AFL.
The league is waiting on further updates from the Victorian government on attendance limits, as well as changes to interstate border restrictions, before locking in its schedule beyond this week.
Bulldogs chief executive Ameet Bains said the continued uncertainty this year is taking a "mental toll" on all clubs on the back of a chaotic 2020 season.
"In many respects, I feel lucky with our group that we are performing at a high level on-field so there is that motivation and focus to keep us on track and to give the guys a real reason and justification to keep going at every step," Bains told SEN on Saturday.
"You talk to colleagues at other clubs that might not be performing as well or having other challenges and that toll is starting to grow larger."
The Bulldogs have received some positive news, with key forward Aaron Naughton cleared of serious damage after suffering a rib injury in a collision with Geelong's Jed Bews.
Naughton was subsituted out of Friday night's match at half-time and taken to hospital for scans.
He remains a chance to play against West Coast and will be monitored throughout the week.
Australian Associated Press