SUSPENDED Adelaide assistant coach Ben Hart has apologised for his role in the club's breach of the AFL's COVID-19 training protocols, describing the incident as "an innocent mistake".
Hart has been stood down and banned from club facilities until June 22, after it was revealed that he and 16 Crows players were found to have breached League protocols limiting players from training in groups of more than two while serving a 14-day isolation period at a Barossa golf course.
In a statement released on the club's website, Hart said he was pleased the 16 players involved avoided significant punishments – having each been handed suspended one-match sanctions – and said he was hopeful it didn't cause unnecessary angst among the AFL community.
HART BANNED, 16 PLAYERS SANCTIONED AFL hits Crows for training breach
"I would like to apologise for the part I played in breaching the AFL’s training protocols which are in place due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent postponement of the competition. I am also accepting of the penalty handed down," Hart said.
"It was unintentional and purely an innocent mistake but nevertheless it was a breach. My concern throughout this ordeal has been wide-ranging but largely focussed on a few main areas.
"First and foremost, the impact on the players and especially the 16 young men who were involved last Thursday and continue to stay quarantined in the Barossa Valley. I am relieved they have avoided a hefty penalty and each of them will be able to train and then play when the competition resumes. Make no mistake, I want our members and supporters to know that our club is blessed to have such a quality group of young players.
"I am thankful the club was not sanctioned. It is full of dedicated and hard-working people, many of whom have been stood down from their duties while trying to push through this difficult period as best they can. They have offered their full support to the players and myself through this event and I cannot thank them enough.
READ THE FULL STATEMENT AFL explains Crows's training sanctions
"To the wonderful members and supporters of our club, I truly hope this has not caused you unnecessary frustration or confusion. The boys will soon return to the field and they will be needing your passionate support like never before. Stand with us because we have a talented and truly committed group of players.
"Finally, I hope this minor breach does not impact on the broader AFL industry and cause too much angst during what are unprecedented and anxious times."