Collingwood star Steele Sidebottom
was reportedly picked up by police following his alleged AFL COVID-19 protocols breach, meaning he could face a longer ban than first anticipated.
Plus Jack Riewoldt doubles down on his Richmond teammate’s hub comments.
Follow all the latest AFL news and developments in our updates below.
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POLICE PICKED UP BY PIES STAR ON SUNDAY MORNING
Tom Morris reports …
Collingwood star Steele Sidebottom was driven home by police after his alleged AFL return to play protocols breach, foxfooty.com.au has confirmed.
Victoria Police confirmed on Wednesday morning that Sidebottom was taken home by police — but not charged with any offence — after being spotted near a Williamstown road on Sunday morning.
Foxfooty.com.au understands Sidebottom had no battery on his phone at the time, so police gave him a lift home.
A Victoria Police statement read: “Police officers located a 29-year-old man in Hanmer Street, Williamstown on Sunday morning 28 June just before 7.30am.
“He was not charged with any offence and after speaking to police was conveyed home.”
It means Sidebottom could face a lengthy suspension for allegedly breaching three strict AFL COVID-19 protocols.
It’s understood the AFL will deliver a sanction by Thursday at the latest.
‘YOU DON’T GET TO PLAY’: THE FACTORS THAT COULD SEAL PIES STAR’S FATE
It’s emerged Steele Sidebottom allegedly breached three AFL return to play protocols on the weekend.
The AFL confirmed on Tuesday night it was investigating two Collingwood players for breaching its strict return to play rules, with the Pies confirming Sidebottom and defender Lynden Dunn were the duo involved.
Sidebottom’s three breaches are understood to be the following: Staying more than two hours at Jeremy Howe’s house, travelling in an Uber and visiting club employee Daniel Wells, who’s not part of the ‘bubble’.
Gutted Robbo rips Sidebottom
As Sidebottom and the Pies await a verdict, two factors appear to not be in his favour. The Age reported Sidebottom “had been drinking alcohol when the alleged breaches occurred”, according to sources, while the current environment in Victoria is unideal following a recent spike in COVID-19 cases that has forced state government to lock part of Melbourne down again.
Two Melbourne players received suspensions for breaking protocols, while Port Adelaide’s Ollie Wines copped a week for allowing a news crew onto his property. Bomber Conor McKenna received a one-match ban for visiting his former host family, which he was allowed to serve while in isolation.
Speaking on Fox Footy’s AFL 360, Whateley said there “wasn’t the callous intent to breach”, but pointed out there were multiple breaches here. And because of the AFL’s determination to keep players to high standards, Sidebottom faced a ban.
“We’ve seen the AFL has dealt with these with one and two-week suspensions – and to stay uniform that’s going to be the case,” Whateley told AFL 360. “I’m a fraction more sympathetic (than Mark Robinson’s view), but it’s a straight out suspension, so you don’t get to play.”
“Daniel Wells is an employee of the club, but he’s not in the ‘bubble’, so you have to know that distinction. There’s an obligation to live by these really strict restrictions and the obligation has been breached and the consequence of that is you don’t get to play.
Steele Sidebottom has been a mainstay of Collingwood’s side for over a decade. Picture: Michael DodgeSource: AAP
“If you roll it back to our starting point is the mistakes that have clearly been made in Victoria have been made by going ‘oh we’ll just do this little bit here and we’ll take this 15 minutes here and we’ll take this liberty’ … this is why it’s been so prescriptive. It’s been an imposition on people’s lives, but if you don’t follow it – there’s 300,000 people who are about to pay the price from tomorrow night in our community for lax behaviour when the vast majority of them have been doing the right thing.
“So the spin-off to that is if a footballer can’t live by it, you don’t get to play.”
Whateley said there wouldn’t be “much sympathy” from the public but added Sidebottom “didn’t randomly go out to a party to get drunk” with mass members of the public.
JACK BACKS CAPTAIN COTCHIN’S COMMENTS
Star Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt has thrown his support behind captain Trent Cotchin over his comments around the hesitancy of some Tigers players to relocate to a hub.
Cotchin, who has a young family, emphasised the Tigers were prepared to head to a hub but said there was a “genuine chance” some teammates wouldn’t relocate indefinitely due to family reasons. The Herald Sun reported expectant parents Shane Edwards and Bachar Houli were weighing up whether to join a hub and leave their partners at home.
Riewoldt said it was “inevitable” Victorian teams would have to move interstate at some stage to keep the season alive.
Asked if he’d be personally prepared to go into a hub indefinitely, Riewoldt told Fox Footy’s AFL 360: “I’m not going to speculate on what the hub looks like because you don’t want to put yourself in concrete with an answer. But it’s something that obviously has to be weighed up by every player in every team about whether their current situation allows them to be away from family, which is the biggest issue, and personal issues as well that players find themselves in as everyday people do.