Essendon expect McKenna back as other Irishmen hit hurdles

Clubs and the AFLPA are working with relevant government authorities to understand what hoops those players would need to jump through to get back to training with teammates assuming the government moves to ease restrictions later this week that would allow players to train in groups of 10.

Their return date remained unclear as a result with any non-Australian seeking to enter the country needing to apply for a travel exemption and then quarantine in designated accommodation for 14 days.

Clubs were considering organising for the players who needed travel exemptions to return to Australia as a group to make the process simpler for the individuals as they attempt to get back on deck with their football clubs.

Clubs were also asking whether they could potentially give the players weights or other equipment to help them stay fit while they spent the first fortnight in designated quarantine accommodation.

As a permanent resident, the speedy McKenna is in a better position as he only needs to comply with the quarantine requirements set out by the relevant state health authorities.

McKenna, who missed the opening round after his pre-season was interrupted when he returned to Ireland temporarily because of homesickness, has been training in preparation for the season resuming.

McKenna, who finished fourth in the club’s best and fairest last season, remains a key player at the Bombers with coach John Worsfold flagging after the club’s round one win over the Dockers that they would need him in defence.

“We need Conor. We feel he is more likely to be needed as a defender for us at the moment but that could change,” Worsfold said.

Geelong trio Mark O’Connor, Stefan Okunbor and Zach Tuohy, Gold Coast’s Pearce Hanley, Hawthorn pair Conor Glass and Conor Nash, St Kilda’s Darragh Joyce and the Swans’ Colin O’Riordan remained in Australia during the shutdown.

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