Conor McKenna at Essendon training on Tuesday. AAP/PA Images
Red Handed

Irish AFL star Conor McKenna at the centre of a storm in Oz after positive Covid-19 test

The AFL has banned contact training for large groups while Tyrone’s McKenna is coming under huge scrutiny.

LAST UPDATE | 22 Jun 2020

IRISH AUSSIE RULES player Conor McKenna is at the centre of a storm Down Under after testing positive for Covid-19.

The Tyrone native, who plays for Essendon Bombers, is in hot water and coming under increased scrutiny, with his future in doubt after he reportedly broke quarantine restrictions — attending an open house viewing and visiting family and friends, according to the Herald Sun — before returning a positive test.

However, is now reporting that health authorities are undertaking additional tests on McKenna’s Covid-19 samples with “a false positive a line of inquiry” but “it is too early to determine if that’s the case.”

The 24-year-old — who is asymptomatic and has demonstrated no trace of illness thus far — returned a ‘low level’ irregular reading on a Covid-19 test taken on Friday afternoon after completing the weekly full contact session with team-mates that morning.

Players are required to complete two coronavirus tests per week: one at least 24 hours before their full-group training session and one at least 24 hours before a match.

McKenna’s test on Wednesday — which would have cleared him for training on Friday morning — returned negative, though the Friday afternoon test returned an irregularity.

He was informed of the issue after arriving at training on Saturday for a small group captain’s run and an immediate follow-up test confirmed a positive reading for Covid-19.

Resultantly, Essendon’s Sunday showdown against Melbourne was postponed though it is expected to be played later in the year.

The AFL today banned contact training for large groups for the next four weeks following its first positive test from a player.

Now, clubs can hold contact training with small groups of up to nine players, but just one session with the full group will be permitted per week on a non-contact basis.

Further changes to training rules were enforced with players and staff told they must not visit other houses or have visitors in their house for the 48 hours before their weekly pre-match day test until after it.

AFL clubs were informed of the new guidelines on Monday afternoon following a turbulent few days for Eglish man McKenna, who was granted leave to return home ahead of the season kick-off and again during the lockdown before self-isolating for two weeks.

afl-bombers-power Facing Port Adelaide Power last season. AAP / PA Images AAP / PA Images / PA Images

Essendon and the AFL are now awaiting feedback from Australia’s Department of Health and Human Services as to which players would need to isolate for 14 days after coming into contact with their team-mate.

McKenna has been the target of online abuse over the weekend and is being widely blamed for halting the league’s progress amidst its return to action. While some have called for respect for the former Red Hand footballer, others have slammed his behaviour.

“He went to a home inspection with his partner – that was barred,” Sydney radio host Ray Hadley said on the 2GB Morning Show.

“He visited friends – that was barred! So, to my way of thinking this McKenna typifies the attitude of many Victorians; the rules don’t apply to me, 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.”

“He should be suspended indefinitely for an act of stupidity that could cost the AFL hundreds of millions of dollars, let alone the players,” the controversial figure added.

“The AFL will be a basket case because of the stupidity of one person.”

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