Essendon defender Conor McKenna took part in a Gaelic football game back home in Ireland recently for his local club in County Tyrone without informing anyone at Tullamarine.
Coach John Worsfold admits he is “really disappointed” with the speedster, but doesn’t believe it’s too egregious a mistake.
“That was something we were not aware of. We certainly didn’t send him back there to play football,” he told SEN Breakfast.
“I was really disappointed when I heard that because we know that he’s passionate about Gaelic footy, he’s passionate about footy, he’s an energetic young man, he’s so up and about. I can see them going to him and saying ‘do you want to have a kick?’
“It puts them at risk of an injury of doing something that is outside their contract so in effect it puts them at risk of costing themselves a contract or a lot of money if they get a serious injury.
“I’ve reflected on it and I won’t speak to Conor until he gets back and I will be disappointed that he played and didn’t feel like he could have rung and checked.
“I would have loved (for him to call the club). I think it was only last weekend from all accounts. He would have been due to do a 8km footy type session kicking the ball and running flat out.
“So – this will be his argument I can tell you – he went and did it in a non-contact environment.”
Worsfold feels there are far worse things a player can be doing in the summer, comparing the situation to Port Adelaide captain Ollie Wines (who was injured in a wakeboarding incident last season) and Carlton forward Charlie Curnow (who was hurt playing backyard basketball recently).
“Out of everything you can do as a footballer in the off-season, going and playing non-contact football would be the best,” Worsfold said.
“It’s better than going snow skiing or playing basketball or playing rugby, something you don’t do day in and day out.
“Dan Richardson would have spoken to Conor or at least to his management. When he gets back we will just talk through why it isn’t appropriate and the risk that you are taking.
“In terms of physical risks, I’m pretty comfortable he wasn’t putting himself in massive danger. As I said, players at that stage of their off-season are starting to really ramp up and get ready for full training and they should be running flat out and kicking the ball.”
McKenna played 22 games for the Bombers in 2019, averaging 21 disposals and five rebound 50s per game and finished fourth in the best and fairest.