AFL rocked as first player tests positive for coronavirus

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Conor McKenna, pictured here in action for Essendon in the 2020 pre-season comp.
Essendon's Conor McKenna has reportedly tested positive for coronavirus. Pic: Getty

The AFL competition has been plunged into turmoil after Essendon’s Conor McKenna tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.

Essendon’s match with the Melbourne Demons on Sunday has subsequently been postponed.

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McKenna, who returned from his native Ireland in early June, was due to feature for the Bombers in their round three clash at the MCG.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirmed the match was postponed at a press conference on Saturday.

All other AFL matches to proceed

McLachlan said all other matches will proceed, with the Gold Coast-Adelaide match moved to 3.05pm on Sunday and Fremantle-Port Adelaide now at 8pm (both AEST).

“All players and staff have been asked to isolate,” McLachlan said.

“We said we would make all decisions based on medical advice and our priority is the health and safety of our staff, players and the community.

“Other matches will proceed. All Essendon players and staff were tested last night and Conor McKenna was the only player who returned a positive test, despite being asymptomatic.

“The club will be closed and cleaned. We will test all players and staff in coming days, with advice from the health department. Our concern is with the player and we will provide support around him.”

Conor McKenna, pictured here celebrating after an Essendon win in 2019.
Conor McKenna celebrates with fans after an Essendon win in 2019. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

McLachlan revealed McKenna had been tested five times while in hotel quarantine on his return from Ireland and had returned negative results each time.

“He was tested again today and we were informed this afternoon that the test came back (positive).” McLachlan said.

McKenna was kept away from a training session on Saturday morning after returning an irregularity on Friday.

The AFL fixture team will now need to work out how the Essendon-Melbourne game is rescheduled.

“Whether we compress the season or have a bye, we are working through that,” McLachlan said.

“That’s why we had a rolling four-week fixture, shorter quarters. We have the flexibility.”

McLachlan expressed his disappointment for Essendon, McKenna and the entire competition.

“In the end I think this was always a possibility,” he said.

“I’m pleased the testing picked it up and he was asymptomatic.”

with AAP

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