AFL journalist stood down over tweet exposing WAG breach

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Trent and Brooke Cotchin, pictured here at the 2019 Brownlow Medal night.
Brooke Cotchin's Instagram post earned Richmond a $45,000 fine. Image: Getty/Instagram

AFL Media journalist Mitch Cleary has been stood down after publishing the Instagram post from Brooke Cotchin that earned Richmond a $45,000 fine.

Richmond was hit with the fine on Friday after the wife of Trent Cotchin breached the AFL’s strict rules for families in the league’s Queensland quarantine hub.

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Brooke Cotchin posted on Instagram that she had visited a day spa - contravening an agreement between players, clubs and the Queensland state government.

Cotchin’s post was widely seen before she deleted it, however she hadn’t been named in any articles covering the fine until Cleary published the post on social media on Friday night.

Veteran journalist Caroline Wilson had named Cotchin on radio on Thursday, but the club had requested that her name not be published.

Cleary was reportedly stood down indefinitely because his obligations as an AFL employee come before those as a journalist.

The decision to stand him down reportedly come from the AFL.

AFL Media has previously professed its independence from the league, but that is now being questioned after Cleary was stood down.

Many took to social media to slam the decision.

In the since-deleted post, Brooke Cotchin boasted of her “incredible” experience at Queensland spa Esteem.

“The most incredible experience today…. My skin was in desperate need of some love,” she wrote.

“I knew I was in the right place as soon as I walked through the doors of Esteem.”

Five AFL clubs cop fines for virus breaches

On Saturday, Collingwood were fined $50,000 - with half that amount suspended - for transgressions made by coach Nathan Buckley and assistant Brenton Sanderson.

The experienced pair played tennis with two people outside the club's “bubble” in Perth on Friday and later self-reported the incident.

They did not breach West Australian government regulations but did fall foul of AFL-imposed guidelines.

The Magpies' penalty came a day after Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Richmond and Carlton were issued similar heavy fines for protocol breaches.

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says the heavy financial penalties have served as a significant warning.

Trent and Brooke Cotchin, pictured here celebrating after the 2017 AFL Grand Final.
Trent and Brooke Cotchin celebrate after the 2017 AFL Grand Final. (Photo by Michael Dodge/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Beveridge said the penalties had prompted the Bulldogs to remind their travelling party - based in a Gold Coast hub - about the severe implications of transgressions as the AFL attempts to complete the 2020 season.

Crucial broadcast revenue is at stake as the competition fights its way through the coronavirus-induced financial crisis.

“It was a positive message because we've been doing everything to the best of our ability to the letter of the protocols,” Beveridge told reporters on Sunday.

“Fortunately, we weren't one of the clubs who transgressed.

“It seems like a no-brainer that you should stay within the parameters, but at times it's quite easy to revert to what your life has been prior and it doesn't seem so black and white.

“But we've had some reminders and there's no doubt all of us really checked ourselves when the sanctions came out.

“Now it's our challenge to make sure that we remain compliant and keep our heads in what we're here to do.”

with AAP