SARAH Rowe has yet to make any decision about a potential return to Australia for the 2021 AFLW season but understands she is unlikely be able to play for Mayo next season if she does.
Having come back from Oz in March following the outbreak of COVID-19, Rowe is preparing for Mayo’s bid to win a first All-Ireland senior title since 2003 when the competition begins in its revised format later this year.
However, doubts have been cast over her future after Mayo manager Peter Leahy insisted in May that players could no longer be part of his panel unless they were present for the entire season.
"We’ve made a decision that anyone who wants to go to Australia or whatever, we’d have to omit from the panel and carry on regardless because (it's) what’s best for Mayo," he asserted.
Until now, players have been able to do both, with the AFLW campaign running from pre-season in late October until the Grand final in April.
Ireland's 18 AFLW players could all be on home soil for both the tail end of league and the subsequent inter-county championship.
Leahy, however, was adamant that Mayo’s players must pick one or the other for 2021.
"The future is quite uncertain still for everyone," Rowe stressed today in a interview for the launch of 'Lidl Moves' with Lidl Ireland and 20x20.
"The signing date is between the 1st and 17th of August. So it’s down the tracks. But there’s been no conversations about it at the moment.
"People are focusing on covid and all that stuff. So until that all subsides, I don’t think there will be any talk until the start of August.
"So until then, I don’t know what I’m at. I’m still taking it day by day and training with my club. And then I’ll try and make a decision after that."
Along with Rowe, three other players have returned from the AFLW to play with Mayo this year.
Aileen Gilroy starred for North Melbourne while sisters Niamh and Grace Kelly impressed through their debut season with the West Coast Eagles.
Asked about Leahy’s comments, Rowe explained: "We haven’t met up or had one on one conversations. I’m sure that conversation is down the tracks as well but like I said, I just don’t know at the moment.
"Things are too uncertain. Travel restrictions are too uncertain. All those kind of things. And until all that changes, I won’t know what I’m doing."
The former Republic of Ireland soccer international added: "But I completely respect where Peter is coming from and understand as well the position he’s in. So whatever decision we make will be the right one for us. Yeah, we’ll see down the line. But right now, not sure."
Collingwood are understandably eager for Rowe to return.
In April, the Mayo star was named AFLW Irish Player of the Year for her displays with the Melbourne club in a season that was cut short due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
Eighteen Irish women lined out competitively Down Under this season, with Rowing coming out on top ahead of Aisling McCarthy of Tipperary (Western Bulldogs) and Mayo legend and former team mate, Cora Staunton (GWS Giants).