Mark McGowan has reportedly angered AFL officials with his comments in the aftermath of the Sydney Swans’ quarantine breach.
The AFL apologised to Western Australia's premier after Sydney player Elijah Taylor was banned for the rest of the season for breaching the state’s quarantine rules.
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Taylor’s partner entered the Swans’ COVID-19 hub accommodation in Perth when she was not authorised to do so.
Lekahni Pearce reportedly crossed a golf course and had to jump two fences to get to Taylor at the Joondalup Resort in Perth.
Pearce and Taylor were reportedly discovered by two senior Swans players, who notified head of football Charlie Gardiner.
Needless to say, WA Premier McGowan was less than impressed by the breach.
“It's very disappointing,” he said on Sunday.
“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.”
But according to veteran journalist Caroline Wilson, the AFL were left “angry” over McGowan’s serve.
“He’s making them jump at every turn and really hurting their brand,” Wilson said on Footy Classified on Monday night.
“They were angry at those comments.”
The Swans have been fined $50,000 for the breach, with $25,000 suspended and $25,000 included in their 2021 soft cap.
WA Police are continuing to investigate the breach and McGowan says both Taylor and his partner could face charges.
AFL General Counsel Andrew Dillon said the AFL’s protocols are the competition’s licence to play and any clear breach will not be tolerated.
“The actions by Elijah not only breach the AFL's protocols, but made it a police matter by breaching the Western Australian COVID-19 quarantine directions,” Dillon said.
“When in quarantine the rules are clear and there is no excuse for this breach.”
Swans had warned Elijah Taylor about misbehaving
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.”
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.”