COLLINGWOOD coach Nathan Buckley says a “confused” Steele Sidebottom doesn’t have a clear recollection of his COVID-19 breach after drinking too much alcohol.
Sidebottom and teammate Lynden Dunn broke protocols by catching an Uber late on Saturday night following a visit to the house of injured defender Jeremy Howe.
The pair were there to console Howe after his devastating knee injury, but Sidebottom’s alcohol consumption during that visit triggered a series of events.
While Dunn headed straight home, Sidebottom took an Uber to the house of Daniel Wells, which was another breach given that the Magpies staff member isn’t part of Collingwood’s COVID-compliant bubble.
“That was probably the next bad decision. And obviously things have headed a little bit off the tracks at that point,” Buckley said.
Police then took Sidebottom home on Sunday morning after finding him in the Melbourne suburb of Williamstown just before 7.30am.
Buckley said Sidebottom’s alcohol consumption on Saturday night meant the star midfielder couldn’t quite recall all of the details of the night.
“Speaking with Steele, he’s quite embarrassed about the situation,” Buckley said.
“He’s obviously remorseful about the decisions that were made but he’s also in some way confused about what has taken place.
“At some point obviously with his drinking he’s made some poor decisions, but his recollection isn’t that great.
“He hasn’t been drinking as regularly (recently). In conversations with him, he’s probably hasn’t been consuming as much alcohol, and one of the theories is he wasn’t able to handle what he consumed at Howie’s place.
“They are all details that try to explain in some way what has happened in the evening, or Steele’s understanding of it.
“He’s embarrassed and very contrite as you would understand.”
Steele could receive a ban of up to four AFL matches for the breach.
Melbourne’s Charlie Spargo received a two-match ban for attending a house gathering last month and Buckley feels Sidebottom’s punishment should fall into that category.
Buckley expects Dunn to cop a one-week ban.
Dunn has twice tested negative for COVID-19 since his protocol breach and was welcomed back to Collingwood’s headquarters on Wednesday.
Sidebottom has already returned one negative test, but has not yet been cleared for a return to the club.
The 29-year-old is currently a member of Collingwood’s leadership team, but his position could be in doubt following the serious breach of protocols.
Collingwood are due to enter a Perth hub later this month along with Geelong.
Western Australia premier Mark McGowan didn’t mince his words when asked what a protocol breach would mean for any visiting players.
“If anyone breaches, obviously my view is they will be punted from Western Australia as soon as they do,” McGowan said.
“Football players are not immune, they’re not exempt, they shouldn’t think they’re above the law.”
(C) AAP 2020