LATE-BLOOMING Melbourne defender Jay Lockhart should be preparing for his third AFL game of the season – and 15th overall – on Sunday against Fremantle at the MCG.

Instead, the 24-year-old is stuck in strictly enforced quarantine with his girlfriend Grace, in a remote town, Musselroe Bay, in the north-eastern tip of Tasmania.

Lockhart returned to his home state shortly after playing in the Demons' season-opener against West Coast in the last AFL game two Sundays ago, just after the season was put on hold.

The problem for him was Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein effectively shut the state's borders in the lead-up to round one, announcing all non-essential visitors would need to go into 14 days' quarantine on arrival.

So here Lockhart is, until Monday afternoon, when his time is up and he will head to his parents' Launceston home to again live out of their basement.

The other day, the ex-North Launceston product was lifting weights in his temporary home – one of his uncle's properties – when masked police arrived at random to check he was OK, and that he was abiding by the rules.

This is life in these coronavirus-stricken days.

01:20 Mins
Published on

Dees From Home | First week

Watch what our players got up to in their first week of isolation.

Published on

"It's good that we're all in it together but it's bloody strange," Lockhart told AFL.com.au.

"I suppose it's good they're policing it so much and that you've kind of got to do the time. By you staying at home; you're helping everyone else.

"They'll be coming around again in a couple of days for another check-up, too."

Lockhart can't leave his residence and knew that before he left Victoria for Tasmania.

His uncle's car was waiting for him at the airport, loaded up with a week's supply of food and other items, including gym equipment.

Then Lockhart's parents made the two-hour trip from Launceston halfway through his time in isolation to drop off more food – without making contact, of course.

Lockhart's partner, Grace, is a brand manager for a mindfulness app, Bloom, and can still work remotely but it's been harder for him to pass the time.

He's organised some building work with his uncles once he can escape quarantine but so far that will be away from others, although that could change if the AFL shutdown lingers.

For the time being, Lockhart is following his individualised training program, which is similar to the in-season weights sessions but the running is more like the pre-season, given the absence of games.

That running is taking place on a 150m 'track' at the Musselroe Bay property, which is getting a serious workout.

"No one knows when we're going to come back, so it's about staying in shape and making sure before we play again that we're ready to go," he said.

"We've prepared ourselves since November to be ready to play no matter what and win at all costs, so I haven't really thought about it too much – we haven't had a massive discussion about it."

This is just the latest experience in Lockhart's "whirlwind" introduction to AFL football, after earning his shot through the pre-season supplemental selection period the night before the deadline last year.

He made his senior debut by round two for a team that made a preliminary final in 2018 but was on its way to a hugely disappointing season ravaged by injury.

Lockhart, who was recruited from Melbourne's VFL affiliate Casey, ended up playing 12 games mostly as a small forward, but knew by the start of this pre-season he was destined to return to his backline roots.

"Last year we were pretty undermanned with a lot of injuries, so I was just trying to fill a void for part of the year," he said.

"With us being lucky enough to pick up 'Kozzy' Pickett, then the improvement of Corey Wagner, Toby Bedford and Charlie Spargo, it made myself go back to the backline, where I've played most of my footy.

"I'm getting to learn off Jake Lever, Steven May, Michael Hibberd, Neville Jetta and the like, so I've enjoyed it and I'm a bit more comfortable down there."

Lockhart is a fan of the AFL's new player movement mechanisms, including the SSP and NAB AFL Mid-Season Draft, which provide more opportunities for players in his position to fast-track their dreams.

That dream extended when he re-signed for the 2020 season but he will again be out of contract at year's end and can't prove himself on-field for now.

"Obviously with being out of contract, you want to let your playing do the talking and at the moment we can't do that," Lockhart said.

"As the year goes on and we're not playing footy, it might creep in but it's not on my mind at the moment – I'm just hoping to play some footy at the end of the year when we can."

But one thing at a time. Lockhart needs to get out of quarantine first.