Collingwood president Eddie McGuire is adamant Steele Sidebottom will retain the club’s vice-captaincy despite a boozy night costing the Magpies star a four-game AFL suspension.
The gun midfielder accepted the hefty ban for committing a series of COVID-19 breaches, although Collingwood deemed the AFL’s punishment to be “excessive”.
McGuire said the two-time Copeland Trophy winner, who was driven home by police about 7:30am on Sunday after he was “disorientated” in the Melbourne suburb of Williamstown, “just had a bad night”.
“We’ll have a look at it in due course, but no is the answer,” McGuire told Nine’s Footy Classified when asked if Sidebottom would lose his leadership role.
“He wants to support the AFL (by not challenging the suspension). He made a mistake. He did the right thing by self-reporting.”
Sidebottom and teammate Lynden Dunn, who received a one-game suspension, broke protocols by catching an Uber late on Saturday night following a visit to the house of injured defender Jeremy Howe.
But instead of heading home, like Dunn, Sidebottom visited former teammate and Magpies staff member Daniel Wells, who isn’t part of Collingwood’s COVID-compliant bubble.
“He did the right thing by visiting his teammate Jeremy Howe’s house, who had just blown his knee out and was turning 30 the next day,” McGuire said.
“(Sidebottom) isn’t a scotch drinker but they were having a few scotches and he became disorientated.
“He was asleep on (Wells’) couch, got up, we believe, to go to the bathroom, walked out the wrong door and found himself outside totally disorientated.
“Victoria Police came along and they said his behaviour was exemplary, they drove him home.
“I’ve got empathy for his situation.”
Despite being unavailable to play again until Round 9, McGuire says Sidebottom will fly to Western Australia with Collingwood as they prepare to be part of a Perth-based quarantine hub in two weeks.
AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon said the league was disappointed to again be dealing with more coronavirus breaches as Victorian COVID-19 cases spike.
Port Adelaide star Ollie Wines, Melbourne pair Charlie Spargo and Kysaiah Pickett and Essendon defender Brandon Zerk-Thatcher were suspended for breaking protocols in June.