Brandon Zerk-Thatcher (right) will be unavailable to play this weekend.
Brandon Zerk-Thatcher (right) will be unavailable to play this weekend.

AFL star banned for coronavirus breach

ESSENDON star Brandon Zerk-Thatcher is unavailable for selection this weekend after breaching COVID-19 regulations.

The Bombers said the 21-year-old defender was "in breach of the AFL's living arrangements and came forward to the club to self-report".

He underwent two tests for coronavirus, both of which came back negative.

After Essendon and the AFL investigated the matter, Zerk-Thatcher was banned for one game, meaning he won't play against Sydney on Sunday.

The Dons' general manager of football Dan Richardson said Zerk-Thatcher had apologised to his teammates for the breach.

"All AFL players and staff are aware of their social responsibility to adhere to the return to play protocols. The club will continue to educate Brandon," Richardson said.

"Brandon will continue to train with the playing group and will be available for senior selection next week."

AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon reiterated how important it was for all players to understand the importance of following the rules.

"While the player self-reported the matter and was remorseful for his actions, all players and match-day officials need to abide by the protocols and as a result he will be unavailable for selection this week," Dillon said.

Players are required to follow strict isolation measures as the AFL season restarts on Thursday night after a two-and-a-half-month break because of the global pandemic.

Every precaution has been taken to ensure there are no slip-ups when the campaign resumes, so Zerk-Thatcher's breach will be the last thing the AFL needs to hear as the wait for footy's return comes to an end.

Zerk-Thatcher made his AFL debut in Round 22 last year and was looking to establish himself in the senior side this season.

Zerk-Thatcher won’t be strapping on the boots against the Swans.
Zerk-Thatcher won’t be strapping on the boots against the Swans.

His controversy comes as the AFL investigates Port Adelaide star Ollie Wines over a reported breach of COVID-19 guidelines.

The midfielder gave an interview to Channel 7 on Wednesday outside his house, breaking rules dictating media interviews must be held at a player's club or remotely via video links.

Wines could be suspended or fined for what Port's general manager of football Chris Davies described as an "inadvertent" breach.

Port knew the interview with the Seven Network was scheduled but assumed they would abide by the league's protocols.

"Ollie needs to own the fact that it happened," Davies said on Thursday.

"This was a personal deal that Ollie has with that particular news organisation.

"The club was aware that the interview was going to happen and so we could have been clearer in terms of knowing where that should have occurred.

"Ollie should have known what the protocols are so this situation should have been avoided ... this is something that we could have done a whole heap better."

Wines won't be allowed at the club until a negative result from his coronavirus test is known.

"Whether Ollie is playing or not on the weekend, not being able to train today is a significant impact for both the individual and also the team," Davies said.

"He's disappointed ... and he won't be back until we and the AFL are satisfied that he doesn't have anything that is going to impact on anyone else."


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