ESSENDON defender Brandon Zerk-Thatcher will be suspended from the club's round two clash with Sydney, having self-reported a breach of strict COVID-19 safety protocols.
The AFL has confirmed that Zerk-Thatcher self-reported to the club having breached 'living arrangement protocols', but has since undergone two separate COVID-19 tests and produced negative results on each.
He has returned to the club and resumed training, but has been handed a one-match suspension and will miss this weekend's visit to the SCG to face the Swans.
"While the player self-reported the matter and was remorseful for his actions, all players and match-day officials need to abide by the protocols and as a result he will be unavailable for selection this week," the AFL's general counsel Andrew Dillon said.
Zerk-Thatcher, 21, featured in the side's round one victory over Fremantle, taking three marks from 12 disposals in a defensive role. It was just his second senior AFL match, having made his debut last season.
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He will also undergo further education as part of the safety breach, with all players having agreed to strict COVID-19 isolation measures as part of the League's return-to-play protocols.
The youngster has apologised to the Essendon playing group for the misdemeanour and for his error in judgement.
"All AFL players and staff are aware of their social responsibility to adhere to the return to play protocols … the club will continue to educate Brandon," Essendon football boss Dan Richardson said.
"Brandon will continue to train with the playing group and will be available for senior selection next week."
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The incident comes as the AFL investigates another potential breach by former Port Adelaide captain Ollie Wines, who was interviewed by Channel 7 from his own house earlier this week.
The AFL's protocols forbid players from inviting anybody who doesn't currently live at that residence into their homes.
Wines has been told to stay away from Port Adelaide's future training sessions until he clears a COVID-19 test, with any potential punishment not yet known.