The finishing touches are put on the stadium ahead of the Round 8 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Port Adelaide Power at the Jiangwan Sport Centre in Shanghai, China, Thursday, May 11, 2017.
The finishing touches are put on the stadium ahead of the Round 8 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Port Adelaide Power at the Jiangwan Sport Centre in Shanghai, China, Thursday, May 11, 2017. AAP Image - Tracey Nearmy

AFL match in China: How did it come to this?

AND we have the audacity to call the Poms whingers?

Our good friends in Old Blighty would be having a mighty belly laugh this week.

That's if they cared enough to have a look at the build-up to the match between Port Adelaide and the Gold Coast in Shanghai this Sunday.

You'd swear the Power and Suns were the first sporting teams from Australia to ever bravely leave our fair shores given all the carry on.

And we are not talking about the carry-on luggage for the arduous 23-hour journey to China when some Suns players didn't even get extra leg room.

Oh the humanity.

And the second flight from Singapore to Shanghai was delayed on the tarmac too.

Somebody alert Amnesty International, stat!

At least Port split the touring party into two so everyone got extra leg room.

Smart cookies.

It was one less thing for Port Adelaide to worry about given they had already warned their players about the danger of Asian crime gangs and had forbidden them to eat outside the hotel for fear of food poisoning.

Fears of sandstorms, smog and even a nuclear strike from North Korea had some seeking a contingency plan.

So the rough checklist for Port is:

  • Don't eat the food.
  • Don't talk to the people.
  • Don't breathe the air.

Port captain Travis Boak also rewrote history declaring this game was a first for a western pro sport to be playing for points in China.

He mustn't have heard of soccer's Asian Champions League.

More than a touch of 'Captain Cook-Itis' (thinking you're the first to discover everything you see) about this trip.

And before all that drama, the biggest issue that dominated the coverage leading into the match was which jumper the Gold Coast would wear.

Technically, it is a Suns home game and they every right to wear their red and gold guernsey which the locals would love given the national sporting colours of China are exactly the same.

The Power carried on like sweet-and-sour pork chops with this terrible apparel news and threatened to not invite the Suns back to China next year.

The Gold Coast wouldn't be too disappointed about that by the sounds of it.

The concept of taking the game to China has merits. The country has a booming economy and it would be silly not to explore every opportunity.

But it has little chance of being successful given all we've heard is reasons why it won't work.

To be fair to the players, they haven't said boo about the potential issues.

A lot of the noise about this trip has come from external sources.

They would be excited about the adventure that awaits and seem to be enjoying the opportunity to change up their normal routines.

Let's hope they put on a show. And get home safe.

God speed intrepid travellers.

Originally published as How did AFL's China trip come to this?

News Corp Australia

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