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Conor McKenna is free to play Round 5 despite ban on match for violating COVID-19 protocols

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Conor McKenna is free to play for Essendon against Collingwood on Friday evening, despite being suspended for violating AFL coronavirus protocols.

His ban from a match for what the league considered a “ minor ” offense was deemed to have been served in the Bombers’ fourth round against Carlton, whom McKenna missed while in quarantine.

The Irish human rights defender visited his former host family in the afternoon of June 19, after a COVID-19 test that morning, and did so without obtaining approval for the visit.

The test was confirmed positive the next morning and resulted in an indefinite postponement of the Essendon game against Melbourne.

McKenna was immediately quarantined and has since returned three negative results for COVID-19.

Teammate James Stewart was also forced into quarantine after being considered “close contact” to McKenna.

The AFL said Monday that the cause of McKenna’s positive test has yet to be determined.

The league has also investigated McKenna’s presence at the rental inspections, but will not penalize him for this.

McKenna was originally chosen to play against Melbourne and when he could now return to Collingwood shock, Zach Merrett will be absent.

The midfielder accepted a ban on the punch that landed Jack Silvagni of Carlton in hospital on Monday.

Silvagni suffered a rib fracture and a bruised lung in the incident, which occurred during a Blues’ point victory over Essendon at MCG on Saturday evening.

Merrett’s action was classified by the match control officer as reckless driving with a high impact on the body.

This sparked a furious debate over what many, including Silvagni, considered a fairly harmless football incident.

“Shame on seeing Zach get a week,” Silvagni tweeted Monday.

“Such incidents occur 20 to 30 times per game.

“It has reached an ideal point and (the) result is simply unlucky, without malicious intent.”

Match review officer Michael Christian said Merrett’s “negligence” put him in danger of suspension.

“You are certainly allowed to pressure the players to try to unbalance them, but in this particular case, I think his action was negligent, and the conduct was exactly that – a careless strike action,” said Christian.

©PAA2020

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