AFL BOMBERS TRAINING
Essendon coach John Worsfold says he is uncertain whether quarantined defender Conor McKenna actually has COVID-19 but maintains his confidence in the strict testing regimes in place for AFL clubs.
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.
He 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.
"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.
Last week's game against Melbourne was postponed indefinitely just 24 hours before it was due to be played, but Worsfold said the build-up to Saturday night's meeting with Carlton would be relatively "normal" for the unbeaten Bombers (2-0).
"We have to deal with what's in front of us and we know this is just a weird season, so this has not thrown the players out too much because they've been through a lot over the last 12 weeks," Worsfold said.
"We want to get out there and train really well tomorrow to keep building on the game plan that we've been working on over the whole summer and leading into this season.
"We've only played it twice and we've got a lot of improvement to go."
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.
AFL Players' Association president Patrick Dangerfield said there was some confusion among the playing group surrounding McKenna's situation, in particular the contrasting results.
The Geelong superstar said it had increased the sense of awareness around the virus throughout the AFL.
"All clubs have taken it really seriously but I think it's been a bit like society at large over the last few weeks; as you feel like things are starting to turn a corner and return to somewhat of a normality, you relax a little," Dangerfield told SEN.
"This certainly just reminds people - players, clubs, the general population - just how quickly this can change."