Staggering details have emerged after Sydney Swans rookie Elijah Taylor was banned for the rest of the AFL season for sneaking his girlfriend into the team’s quarantine hub accommodation.
Taylor was banned for breaching the AFL’s return-to-play protocols and Western Australia’s quarantine restrictions, after his partner entered the Swans’ accommodation in Perth when she was not authorised to do so.
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The club was fined $50,000 for the breach, with half suspended and $25,000 to be included in their 2021 soft cap.
WA Police are continuing to investigate the breach and Premier Mark McGowan said on Sunday both Taylor and his partner could face charges.
On Footy Classified on Monday night, it was revealed that Taylor’s partner Lekahni Pearce crossed a golf course and had to jump two fences to get to him at the Joondalup Resort in Perth.
Pearce, 18, had reportedly completed her 14-day quarantine period just two hours earlier.
Veteran AFL journo Caroline Wilson said Taylor and Pearce were discovered by two senior Swans players, who notified head of football Charlie Gardiner.
“So it wasn’t a naive or ignorant mistake. It was premeditated, considered and executed so that’s really disappointing,” former Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said.
Swans coach John Longmire told AFL 360 that Taylor had been warned about the consequences of potential breaches.
“We talked to Elijah specifically before we left and made sure that we all understand what environment we’re going into,” Longmire said.
“He still made a very poor choice, he still made a decision to deliberately breach the quarantine and it’s unacceptable, and the ramifications are very much suited to what he did.
“It was a decision that put so much at risk. He’s only a young player, he’s in his first year of AFL footy, but it was still a terrible decision that has big ramifications.”
WA Premier slams AFL over breach
On Sunday, WA Premier McGowan took aim at the AFL and Sydney Swans.
“It's very disappointing,” he said.
“The AFL gave us every assurance this wouldn't happen. The Swans have let us down, the AFL has let us down. We're disappointed in both organisations.
“I received an apology from the AFL this morning. I appreciate that but ... they promised us this wouldn't happen and they let us down.”
WA Police have notified Sydney that 19-year-old Taylor can continue his quarantine with the team, while his partner will also be required to quarantine for another 14 days.
Both the AFL and the Swans have said there are no excuses for the breach.
Sydney chief executive Tom Harley said the club will continue to support Taylor.
“Our situation is probably two-fold,” Harley told ABC radio.
“There's absolute condemnation and making sure that Elijah's aware of what's happened.
“On the same side he is a 19-year-old first-year player who is - like all players and staff and the community - living in pretty challenging times at the minute.
“We absolutely don't let Elijah off the hook but make sure that the support mechanism is there for him.
“He's extremely remorseful and it is a lesson to everyone, if ever we needed another one, of the privileged position that we are in to keep the game going.”