Collingwood star Steele Sidebottom is set to ditch the club’s bubble of isolation to return to Melbourne on a private family affair.
Collingwood star Steele Sidebottom has told his club he will drop the isolation bubble in Queensland next week to return home to Melbourne to be with his pregnant partner Alisha Edwards.
Sidebottom is reportedly back in Melbourne on Tuesday – leaving him in a race against time to return before the Magpies’ season ends.
On Friday night, reports revealed that Sidebottom and Edwards will be celebrating the birth of their first child scheduled for September 12 in a situation which has led to speculation that Sidebottom may have played their last game of the year.
Widespread speculation has claimed that Sidebottom may have sought a seat on the AFL’s last charter flight from Melbourne to Brisbane on September 1 – but Collingwood chairman Eddie McGuire revealed on Friday night that Sidebottom would remain at Melbourne until the birth of her first child.
With the AFL home and away season ending on Sunday, September 20, Collingwood will need to advance to the 2020 Series Finals for Sidebottom to replay this season.
Kayo is your ticket to the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership season. Watch every game of every round live and on demand. New to Kayo? Get your 14 day free trial and start streaming instantly>
McGuire told Fox Footy the Magpies earlier this year gave their support to Sidebottom to leave central Queensland for the birth of his child.
“It’s always been like that, by the way, it’s not a new story,” he said.
“It might be new to everyone here, but obviously Alisha is having a baby, their first baby, and it was not applicable (for her) to go to Queensland.
“So Sidey will be coming home to witness the birth of her child with Alisha, and then hopefully back. “
Geelong champion Gary Ablett is also aiming to be on the September 1 flight with Geelong confirming that the AFL has pushed back the club’s request for Ablett to make the trip in the coming days.
Ablett returned to Victoria in July. His wife Jordan Ablett revealed earlier this month that her mother Trudy has passed away after a long battle with cancer.
The tragedy came after the Ablett family announced last month their son Levi was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative disease.
Sidebottom has now made the same decision to return home to support partner Alisha Edwards during the later stages of her pregnancy.
“Sidebottom has an expected baby and is understandably keen to support partner Alisha here in Melbourne,” Channel 7 reporter Mark Stevens said on Twitter.
Stevens said the return of Seven News Sidebottom was a “big shock”.
“They are expecting a baby on September 12,” he said.
“Steele Sidebottom will return from the hub in advance. He could return after Monday’s clash with North Melbourne. He is expected to come back on Tuesday. It’s family first for Steele Sidebottom. He may only have one game left in the season.
“Of course, once he gets back he has to come back to Queensland. It should then be quarantined for 14 days. There is still a chance in some ways. But it will be very tight.
Earlier, Geelong released a statement to confirm reports that requests from Ablett and Richmond star Shane Edwards to travel to Brisbane in August were rejected by league officials.
“The club were informed today that Gary Ablett will not be able to enter Queensland until September 1 unless he enters strict quarantine,” the club statement said.
“It would mean Gary couldn’t train during that time.
“As such, Gary will be traveling with the AFL Big Party on September 1, when he will complete a 14-day quarantine at the AFL Transition Center.”
Geelong football boss Simon Lloyd said the club supported Ablett’s decision to return home.
“While Gary and the club are disappointed, we understand the importance of remaining diligent in the fight against COVID-19,” he said in the statement.
“The Queensland government and health officials have been at the forefront throughout this time in supporting the clubs and the game.
“Gary had serious family issues that forced him to return home. We fully supported this decision.
“Gary will continue to train before arriving in Queensland on September 1st. We look forward to Gary and his family joining us after quarantine is over. “
Ablett would only get one game before the AFL Finals Series begins.