Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has opened up on his controversial tennis match with former Aussie star Alicia Molik, describing the COVID-19 breach as a “miscommunication”.
The AFL slapped the Pies with a $50,000 fine ($25,000 suspended) on Saturday after Buckley and his assistant coach Brenton Sanderson played a game of tennis against Molik and a fourth unnamed person – in breach of the AFL’s strict COVID-19 protocols.
Speaking after his side’s shock loss to the Dockers in Perth, Buckley said he now knows his decision to play was a “crystal clear” breach of the AFL restrictions.
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“I just had a really expensive game of tennis during the week,” Buckley said.
“We all understand there were only a handful of COVID cases currently in WA and the health risk isn’t a concern but I had the responsibility to adhere to the rules and regulations of the AFL, and 2020 hub regulations are part of the rules and regulations.
“We let the club down in that regard by a miscommunication and not being diligent enough with our understanding of what we could and couldn’t do.
“As soon as we came back into the team environment, we had a few conversations and realised we needed to address it.
“It was crystal clear where you look back at it, there’s been four or five iterations of what is allowed in hubs and what we’re in at the moment is a hotel and not technically a hub.
“Clearly WA is not a COVID risk but the AFL protocols are about keeping it as consistent as possible for all clubs.
“Protocols have changed and evolved and there’s been almost weekly updates.
“I’m not making an excuse but that’s the reality clubs are facing and there’s probably some of the slip up that may have stemmed from that but I need to be better and we need to be better.”
Buckley said he and Sanderson will pay the fine to ensure Magpies members don’t foot the bill.
“Sando and I have copped a fair fine … but we move quickly to the game, we didn’t perform tonight and we’ve got work to do,” he said.
“Looking back isn’t going to help us, we’ve got to get going.”
The fine couldn’t have come at a worse time for the club after Collingwood president Eddie McGuire twice went on the record saying anyone who transgresses should be sent home.
Speaking on Triple M radio McGuire hit out at misbehaving WAGs who cost Richmond, Carlton and North Melbourne fines, while non-playing Hawthorn players were fined for their trip to get chips at a game.
“Ordinary circumstances, you haven’t got the entire AFL in a bunker and the season on a precipice,” McGuire had argued.
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