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Aussie Rules teams take a knee as virus-hit season resumes with Irish players set to feature this weekend

Richmond and Collingwood played out a 36-36 draw this morning at the MCG.

Updated Jun 11th 2020, 3:50 PM

afl-magpies-tigers Collingwood and Richmond players kneel together in a circle before their game. Source: AAP/PA Images

OVER 11 WEEKS after the last game, the AFL season returned to action today in Melbourne with players united to take a knee in support of the “Black Lives Matter” movement as the country’s biggest spectator sport returned to action after a lengthy COVID-19-enforced shutdown.

The entire Collingwood and Richmond teams, along with match officials, knelt in the centre of the cavernous — and eerily empty — Melbourne Cricket Ground ahead of the first game in almost three months.

Both sides wore black t-shirts for their warm-up in support of the worldwide cause against systemic racism, which has gained huge traction in the wake of the shocking death of George Floyd in the United States.

Richmond and Collingwood played out a 36-36 draw in a clash that produced ten goals which took place behind closed doors at the MCG, the first AFL fixture in 81 days. Reigning champions Richmond have won two of the last three AFL Grand finals while Collingwood were defeated in the 2018 decider.

afl-magpies-tigers A general view of the MCG during today's game Source: AAP/PA Images

Irish interest will intensify this weekend with Kerry’s Mark O’Connor and Laois player Zach Tuohy both named to start tomorrow morning for Geelong Cats against Hawthorn (10.50am Irish time, Live BT Sport 2).

Meath’s Conor Nash is currently out for Hawthorn due to a hip injury.

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afl-giants-cats Mark O'Connor of the Geelong Cats during their game in March against GWS Giants. Source: AAP/PA Images

On Saturday, Mayo’s Pearce Hanley is selected as an interchange for the Gold Coast Suns who will meet West Coast Eagles while Tipperary’s Colin O’Riordan is listed as an interchange for Sydney Swans against Essendon on Sunday.

Tyrone’s Conor McKenna has recently returned to link up with Essendon after spending some time in Ireland and was only able to resume training at the end of May after a mandatory 14-day period in quarantine.

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