The Essendon Bombers have been delivered with some good news after it was confirmed that a positive Covid-19 test recorded by Conor McKenna would have minimal impact on their playing squad.
Over a couple of days where the Tyrone native McKenna was roundly criticised in the Australian media after he was believed to have been in breach of AFL protocol before registering a positive Covid-19 test, today's news will come as some relief.
Although it was feared that Conor McKenna's positive test could see any number of his Essendon teammates forced into isolation, thus compromising the league's ability to function as close to normally as possible, it has been confirmed that only one other player will be declared unavailable.
As a result of an investigation carried out by the Department of Health and Human Services, James Stewart was the only Bomber deemed to have come into close enough contact with McKenna for this decision to be deemed necessary.
— 7AFL (@7AFL) June 23, 2020
During their team's most recent training session last Friday, James Stewart, who participated in a wrestling drill with Conor McKenna, was the only player deemed to have come into close enough contact with the Irish man.
He will now enter a two-week period of isolation backdated from that session and is likely to be the subject of further Covid-19 testing himself across the days to come.
Speaking in the aftermath of what has been a tumultuous few days for Conor McKenna and Eseendon, the club's chief executive Xavier Campbell is now determined to focus on the challenges ahead.
"I think we can now move forward," he stressed. "There’s probably going to be some learnings from it, and that’s something we’ll explore later this afternoon, probably as a club.
"There’s a methodology to the way [the DHHS] determined the groups, but equally for all clubs there’s a risk profile you need to balance out with a performance element as well. Now clearly for the competition, now for us, that risk profile has increased dramatically. And that will trigger a review of how we do things."
Interestingly, Campbell also maintained that things may not necessarily be as straight forward as they have seemed with regard to McKenna's positive test.
"It’s something that’s out of our hands," he said of any potential sanction that follows. "That’s something the AFL will work through a process now to determine, whether or not he has in fact breached any protocols.
"I don’t think it’s as clear cut as people would like to think."
On Tuesday's OTB AM, the AFL's Nicholas Walsh will joins the show to discuss the reaction to Conor McKenna's positive test in Australia. You can catch that live across all of OTB's social channels from 7.30 am this morning, or throughout the day on OTB's YouTube channel.