If you’re a sports fan, you’ve no doubt heard the news that Essendon player Conor McKenna tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend. It’s come as a shocking blow for the AFL competition, which only returned for round two on June 11. But what does this mean for the rest of the fixture – and could it spell the end of the season?
Here’s what we know so far…
On Monday morning (June 23) the AFL confirmed that for all clubs, contact training will no longer be allowed at sessions involving full squads. These restrictions mean that for the next four weeks (if not longer), players will only be allowed to tackle while training in groups of nine or less. It also ends any plans for scratch matches or simulations, making it much more difficult for coaching staff to adjust their game plan ahead of each round and for players outside the top 22 to keep on top of their fitness.
Essendon is currently awaiting results from further COVID-19 tests on players and staff, although AFL legal counsel Andrew Gillon says the game against Carlton is still likely to go ahead on Saturday pending they can make up a team of 26.
“I‘d expect common sense would (prevail),” Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell told Triple M on Monday morning.
“When I say common sense, when the league worked through this – and they‘ve done a tremendous job – they created flexibility in the fixture to allow for this exact situation, where we can stretch out the season, where we could have potential breaks.”
“We may have to have breaks based on existing state border closures and things like that, anyway, so I would like to think we would sit down with the AFL and others … so we can work through it for a reasonable outcome.”
Regardless of how the fixture is restructured, it looks likely that the Bombers may have to make up a game or two with short turnarounds.
Updates as we have ‘em.