AFL star quits bubble over baby matter
Collingwood star Steele Sidebottom has reportedly told his club he will next week abandon the isolation bubble in Queensland to return home to Melbourne to be with pregnant partner Alisha Edwards.
Sidebottom will reportedly arrive back in Melbourne as early as Tuesday - leaving him in a race against the clock to return before the end of the Magpies' season.
It remains unclear if Sidebottom will remain in Melbourne through to the couple's reported due date of September 12 - or if he will look to secure a seat on the AFL's last chartered flight from Melbourne to Brisbane on September 1.
Geelong champion Gary Ablett is also aiming to be on the September 1 flight with Geelong confirming the AFL has knocked back the club's request for Ablett to make the trip in coming days.
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Ablett returned to Victoria in July. His wife Jordan Ablett revealed earlier this month her mum Trudy died after a long battle with cancer.
The tragedy came after the Ablett family announced last month their son Levi was diagnosed with a rare and degenerative disease.
Sidebottom has now made the similar decision to return home to support his partner Alisha Edwards during the final stages of her pregnancy.
"Sidebottom has a baby due, and is understandably keen to support partner Alisha here in Melbourne," Channel 7 reporter Mark Stevens posted on Twitter.
Stevens told Seven News Sidebottom's return is a "big shock".
"They are expecting a baby on September 12," he said.
"Steele Sidebottom will come home from the hub in advance. He may return after Monday's clash with North Melbourne. He is likely to return on Tuesday. It is family first for Steele Sidebottom. He may only have one game left in the season.
"Of course, once he returns, he has to come back to Queensland. He would then have to quarantine 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 Ablett and Richmond star Shane Edwards' requests to fly to Brisbane in August were rejected by league officials.
"The club has been advised today that Gary Ablett will not be able to enter Queensland until 1 September unless he entered a hard quarantine," the club statement claimed.
"This would mean Gary could not train during this period.
"As such Gary will travel with the large AFL party on 1 September at which time he will complete a 14-day quarantine in the AFL's transition hub."
Geelong football boss Simon Lloyd says the club stands by Ablett's decision to return home.
"While Gary and the club are disappointed, we understand the importance of staying diligent in the fight against COVID-19," he said in the statement.
"The Queensland government and health officials have been first class throughout this time in supporting clubs and the game.
"Gary had important family matters that required him to return home. We were fully supportive of that decision.
"Gary will continue to train before coming into Queensland on 1 September. We look forward to Gary and his family joining us once the quarantine is complete."
Ablett will reportedly get just one match before the start of the AFL Finals Series.
Originally published as AFL star quits bubble over baby matter