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AFL Players' Association president Patrick Dangerfield has blasted some of the media reporting around Conor McKenna's 'positive' coronavirus test.
Essendon defender McKenna tested negative several times this month before an irregular result last Friday saw him re-tested on Saturday, with that result coming back positive.
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The Bombers' match against Melbourne that was scheduled for the following day was promptly cancelled and the incident cast immediate doubt on the AFL season.
McKenna has since been in quarantine and returned another negative test, which was confirmed by Essendon on Tuesday night.
The 24-year-old Irishman is still being treated as a positive case by Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the case, Dangerfield has hit out at some of the commentary around McKenna.
Among those in the media to slam the Irish-born defender was Sydney radio personality Ray Hadley, whose attack reeked of a cheap shot at Victorians.
“He came back from his native Ireland, went into two weeks quarantine and then he broke just about every AFL rule they put in place in relation to isolation,” Hadley said.
“He went to a home inspection with his partner, that was barred. He visited friends and that was barred and he was told with all the AFL players to isolate.
“To my was of thinking, McKenna typifies the attitude of many Victorians: The rules don’t apply to me and hence we have what we have now.
“As a result of McKenna’s actions, the AFL season is on tenterhooks because of this bloke, six of his teammates can’t play and Essendon are a basket case.
“The AFL will be a basket case because of the stupidity of one person.
“He should be suspended indefinitely for an act of stupidity that could cost the AFL hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Dangerfield has since slammed the comments as irresponsible and insists it should prove a lesson to others in the media.
“He’s been treated like a criminal at times. If he had caught it, he’s caught one of the most contagious viruses there is and yet we treated him the way that we did,” Dangerfield told SEN.
“Hopefully we can re-align ourselves in terms of how we deal with the player that is going to contract it.
“I think it’s been good to see some in the media come out and put their hands up saying they went too hard, too early. I hope that we all learn from it.”
Uncertainty surrounds McKenna case
Essendon coach John Worsfold says he is uncertain whether McKenna actually has COVID-19 but maintains his confidence in the strict testing regimes in place for AFL clubs.
"There's some doubt in my mind," Worsfold told reporters on Wednesday.
"I don't know if there's doubt in other people's minds but we're waiting to find out exactly what it (the latest negative result) means.
"There's some pretty smart people out there that will assess what Conor's testing results are saying.
"He's had a positive test with some negatives around that, so from my own personal point of view ... I couldn't say he definitely has (the virus) or he definitely hasn't."
Bombers teammate James Stewart was also forced into quarantine after a DHHS investigation found the fringe forward was a "close contact" of McKenna.
The decision on Stewart being the only extra player required to self-isolate was a relief to Essendon amid fears at one point their entire backline might be put out of action.
Worsfold said Essendon had been rotating players through different combinations in their small training groups and would continue to do so in order to mitigate risks around losing specific types of players.
The experienced senior coach could not say whether Essendon would attempt to get McKenna out of quarantine following the latest negative test.