The AFL and the Queensland government have come under fire for the preferential treatment given to players, officials and WAGs who have spent their time in quarantine in a luxurious five-star Gold Coast hotel – while many everyday Aussies were refused permission to enter the state.
But while photos have surfaced showing the stars’ wives and girlfriends sipping cocktails by the pool, one outspoken WAG has said that not all the AFL’s quarantine hubs were like luxury holidays.
Ex-Love Island contestant Tayla Damir, who is dating Richmond’s Nathan Broad and stayed at an AFL hub in August, told KIIS FM’s 3pm Pick-Up on Monday that the families were just grateful to have a safe place to stay during the pandemic and weren’t looking for a free vacation.
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Speaking out: Footy WAG and Love Island star Tayla Damir (left), who is dating Richmond’s Nathan Broad (right), has offered a rare glimpse inside the AFL’s resort-style Queensland hubs
The AFL is reportedly paying up to $3million a week to house 458 players and their families in high-class locations.
The 4.5 star Mercure Gold Coast Resort was also converted into an impenetrable fortress, complete security guards and warning as 400 officials, fans, players, wives and even journalists quarantined after announcing the game would play the Grand Final would be played in Queensland.
The Grand Final will be played on October 24th at the Gabba.
On Sunday, several women were spotted sunning themselves by the pool as temperatures reached 22°C.
However, this AFL hub was dismantled on Tuesday, with players and their families pictured leaving the hotel after completing the 14-days mandatory quarantine.
Grateful: Tayla, who stayed at an AFL hub in August, said the players’ families were just grateful to have a safe place to stay during the pandemic and weren’t after a free holiday. Pictured: AFL stars and WAGs relaxing by the pool at the Mercure Resort on the Gold Coast on Sunday
Bubbles: The AFL is reportedly paying up to $3million a week to house 458 players and their families in high-class locations, including the 4.5 star Mercure Gold Coast Resort in Carrara, which was dismantled on Tuesday
Over: The AFL hub at the Mercure was dismantled on Tuesday as players and their families were seen exiting the hotel
Lockdown: It’s unclear which AFL hub Tayla and Nathan stayed in, as multiple hotels have been used across Queensland to house footy stars and their partners
It’s unclear which AFL hub Tayla stayed in, as multiple hotels have been used across Queensland to house footy stars and their partners.
‘I was in the second hub that went over. For us it was a really grateful hub in a way because that’s when Melbourne had just announced stage-four lockdown,’ she said.
‘A lot of us were just sitting there and realising how grateful we were to have been able to get out of Melbourne when we did and to have such a good support network through the AFL – we felt like one big family.’
The former beauty queen, who rose to fame as the winner of Love Island’s first season in 2018, added: ‘I was really lucky for the hub I was in, but I can’t really speak for the other hubs though.’
Luck of the draw: Tayla, who rose to fame as the winner of Love Island’s first season in 2018, said: ‘I was really lucky for the hub I was in, but I can’t really speak for the other hubs though.’ Pictured with Nathan during a previous holiday
‘We felt like a family’: Tayla said the mood in her AFL hub was quite sombre, as most people felt anxious about their families in Melbourne living under the shadow of stage-four lockdown
Remember her? Tayla won the first season of Love Island Australia with then-boyfriend Grant Crapp (left). They split two weeks after the live finale in 2018
Players from 14 teams and their families moved to luxury bubbles in Queensland and Western Australia last month, where they have been enjoying free food, five-star accommodation and long days by the pool.
Queensland’s border restrictions make it near impossible for anybody from COVID-19 hotspots to enter the state, but up to 400 officials and family members of AFL players were granted an exemption.
The Queensland government has become the subject of fierce debate since allowing the hub to go ahead, while at the same time denying entry into the state for devastated families wanting to visit sick and dying relatives.
However, the AFL exemption conveniently worked in Tayla’s favour, as she had previously been denied entry into Western Australia from Victoria.
After spending her mandatory two-week hotel quarantine at the AFL hub, Tayla reapplied to return to Perth and was approved.
‘Queensland don’t have as many cases at the moment, so they were more lenient in terms of travel,’ she said, adding that having her WA driver’s licence and prior work commitments in Perth helped the approval process.
Special treatment: Queensland’s border restrictions make it near impossible for anybody from COVID-19 hotspots to enter the state, but up to 400 officials and family members of AFL players were granted an exemption
Game on: Most of the AFL season for 2020 has been played in Queensland, where hubs were set up throughout the state from Cairns to the Gold Coast to allow teams to play against one another in spite of COVID-19 restrictions. Pictured: Nathan Broad of the Tigers this month
What pandemic? Temperatures in Queensland reached a warm 22°C on Sunday, when several women were spotted laying by the pool at the Mercure Gold Coast Resort
Nice for some! Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has come under fire for giving the green light for 400 people to quarantine in the AFL hub, but refusing to allow a young nurse into the state for her father’s funeral
Most of the AFL season for 2020 has been played in Queensland, where hubs were set up throughout the state from Cairns to the Gold Coast to allow teams to play against one another in spite of COVID-19 restrictions.
Teams from Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales are all now based in their own ‘bubbles’ in Queensland, and most players have already undergone their 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine period.
The AFL is said to be becoming increasingly frustrated with numerous absurd requests from players and their families to upgrade their living situation.
AFL reporter Sam McClure said the league has fielded requests for a range of matters including demands to pay for extra food bills and to renovate their apartments.
Carlton, North Melbourne, Richmond, Hawthorn and Collingwood have copped fines totaling $235,000 for breaking the hub rules.
Queensland will host the 2020 Grand Final on October 24 at the Gabba in Brisbane, following a deadly coronavirus outbreak in Victoria.
End in sight: Queensland will host the 2020 Grand Final on October 24 at the Gabba in Brisbane following a deadly coronavirus outbreak in Victoria. Pictured: Nathan Broad with team staff during a Richmond Tigers AFL training session on Gold Coast on August 20, 2020