STRANDED Victoria-based Riverina League players have declared they're more than willing to sit out this year, adamant the league and the health of the community is more important than any individual.
The NSW government's closure of the border has forced AFL Riverina to rule out Victorian-based players for at least the opening few weeks of the season.
While disappointed they can't return to their home town clubs of Turvey Park and Mangoplah-Cookardinina United-Eastlakes respectively, Nathan Byrne and Col Sanbrook agree it's not worth the risk.
About 40 players will be affected by the decision, headlined by Sanbrook's Goannas teammate Damien Cupido, The Rock-Yerong Creek recruits Luke Daly, Jayden Kotzur, Tom Hofert and McKye Turner, Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong's Connor Newnham and Leeton-Whitton trio Sam Darley, Liam Frazer and Hugh Collins.
"I think most healthy people are asymptomatic. The last thing you want to do is potentially be the person to bring it (coronavirus) up and there's an outbreak in the Riverina just for a game of footy," Byrne said.
"I would have loved to have returned but football probably isn't the most important thing, and this highlights that.
"They're lucky to still have a season. If I and a few other blokes have to miss out for their season to go ahead, that's still the best result.
"It's a small price to play to not play footy for seven or eight game, compared to the risk it brings other people in the community."
Sanbrook who is aiming to return to the Goannas for the first time in five years, echoed Byrne's sentiments.
"I think the RFL is lucky to be playing footy, for the sake of me and a few other players coming up it's probably not worth the risk," he said.
"We've got the clearances in, so it leaves the door open (if we're allowed in later in the season).
"I think there needs to be a clear decision whether we're allowed to come back or not, or when the border is open it's OK.
"I'm easy either way. I'd love to come back and play for Mango, but not if we're going to be a chance of jeopardising the comp."