The use of hubs will be the only way the heavily impacted 2020 season will be able to kick-start again, having lasted just one round behind closed doors.
Crowds will continue to be locked out for the foreseeable future, with league executives holding a glimmer of hope that games later in the year – potentially finals – will be able to include live spectators in some capacity.
All players, staff and other certified people given access to hubs will be required to be tested upon entry and then multiple times each week.
One model the AFL is working towards would allow health authorities to know the result of the test on the same day the sample was taken.
Clubs and states have begun their own public relations campaign to have hubs stationed in their areas, with Gold Coast chief executive Mark Evans last week promoting the possibility of a hub in south-east Queensland, while Greater Western Sydney boss Dave Matthews strongly believes the Sydney Olympic precinct should be utilised.
Several prominent football figures, including reigning premiership coach Damien Hardwick, have pushed for the league to provide a date for the return, but AFL executives remain comfortable with their conservative approach.
That conservatism is only viewed when the AFL is compared to that of the NRL, which remains steadfast in its view that games will resume on May 28.
“I really applaud the NRL for their aspirational-type leadership of giving a date,” Hardwick told the ABC.
“I love a carrot, so to speak. I love a date to work with.
“I think the really challenging aspect for us as coaches and players at the moment is we haven’t got a date, so the motivation of when to start your training to prepare for that date.”