AFL Rd 10 - Collingwood v Sydney
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 06: Isaac Quaynor of the Magpies is taken from the ground with an injury during the round 10 AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Sydney Swans at The Gabba on August 06, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The festival that was the ‘footy frenzy’ had club medics worried, but according to Champion Data, injury numbers are down from last season.

However, some clubs have been hit harder than others.

Champion Data statistics, which combines games lost to injury to a team’s best 22 players and total games lost to injury across each club, shows a drop of 130 casualties across the board.

In 2019, between rounds 2-12, clubs lost 940 games to injury to their best 22 players, down to 808 this season.

Melbourne find themselves at the lower end of the injury list, with only a handful of players injured. Most concerning part of their injury list is that all three of their ruckman are under injury clouds.

At the top end of the ladder with the most amount of injuries are North Melbourne and Essendon.  Two of the hardest hit with 231 games lost to injury and 130 lost to their best 22 with injury, which are contributing factors to their horrid year.

North has 15 injuries whereas the Bombers have 11-star players injured at the moment.

Both clubs have six players out for the season. Stars like Dyson Heppell (ESS), David Zaharakis (ESS), Ben Cunnington (NORTH) and young gun Tarryn Thomas (NORTH) all out for the season.

Carlton fitness boss Andrew Russell believes reduced game time combined with lower stress, good nutrition and better sleep in hub life as potential key factors.

Russell knows what it takes to keep a list healthy and manage injuries as they arise, overseeing Hawthorn’s golden era, including the three-peat from 2013-15.

“I think some teams have had a lot of injuries, and others not much at all,” Russell told the Herald Sun

“Quality nutrition, sleep, and stress – they’re the big blocks in terms of recovery.”

“Game loads are down because of game time, so players are covering two to three less kilometres per game. That cumulative effect I think is significant in terms of fatigue. But what’s interesting is that for some players, even though the game time is lower, the intensity is just as high, if not higher.

“Guys are recovering from games quicker, so apart from the frenzies, you’ve actually been able to train more in the past. Usually, every player is deconditioning over the course of the season … (and without a second-tier competition), players who aren’t playing can train a lot more and they all come in and are ready to go.” Russell said

Hub life is every fitness boss dream. Having more control and a routine in place for all players.

“But every meal, we feed them. They’ve never eaten better – especially teams that have had to quarantine, and we did twice. We had a month where 95 per cent of the things they ate, we’d planned for them. Even Uber Eats was shut down for those quarantining in Perth.” Russell said

Throughout the Footy Frenzy clubs lost on average 24 games to their best 22 through injury. Russell concedes that the lower injury trend may not continue in Frenzy 2.0.

“We had five months to prepare them (for the season), then we had a six or eight weeks (shut down) where we tried to maintain where we were at, and then we topped them back up again, so it ended up working pretty well,” he said.

“We’ve still got a fair bit of footy to play. What it is now, it may continue on, but it may not.

“It may get to a point where physically and mentally they’ve just had enough. That is what we don’t know. We’re not sure how that looks.”

“You have patches that are really challenging and others that go smoothly. You’re looking to get as many smooth patches, but there’s no club that does it easy. No one’s doing it easy.” Russell said.

The Blues have had their fair share of injury concerns. Currently eight players are listed as injured.

INJURY LADDER

Total games lost to injury from Rounds 2-12, 2020

Team Games lost to best 22 with injury Total games lost to injury
North Melbourne 84 127
Fremantle 65 95
Collingwood 60 71
Western Bulldogs 59 80
Carlton 57 78
Essendon 56 104
Geelong 56 83
Sydney 51 89
Adelaide 49 66
West Coast 39 65
GWS 39 63
Port Adelaide 37 48
Hawthorn 34 68
St Kilda 31 43
Brisbane 30 42
Richmond 24 67
Melbourne 22 52
Gold Coast 15 49
Total = 808 games lost to best 22
Average: 44.9 games per club