AAP AFL

Sidebottom’s leadership role not in doubt

By AAP Newswire

Nathan Buckley insists the Collingwood vice-captaincy was not discussed when a "sheepish" Steele Sidebottom met up with his teammates for the first time since the drinking session that saw him banned by the AFL for four matches.

Sidebottom has faced fierce scrutiny and external calls to step down from his leadership role since breaking the league's strict COVID-19 protocols last month.

The player sat down with the Magpies' leadership group and senior football staff for the first time since the June 27-28 incident when they arrived in Perth on Sunday.

The All-Australian midfielder and his teammate Jordan De Goey had flown direct to the WA hub, rather than travelling with the team to Sydney for their win over Hawthorn last Friday night.

"Leadership isn't about a title," Collingwood coach Buckley said on AFL360.

"It's about what you do or do not do, and over the course of Steele's time at the football club his growth as an individual has been relatively positive.

"His contribution to us has been really strong and he's not shying away from the fact that he made some bad decisions and put himself in a very compromising position, for which he and we are paying a price.

"But that's an event, it's not a pattern."

An intoxicated Sidebottom was driven home by police on the morning of June 28 after breaking multiple AFL coronavirus protocols.

The 29-year-old apologised to his teammates, the club and its supporters via a video message posted on the club website on Monday.

He has agreed to complete a responsible consumption of alcohol course and commit time in the service of a charitable or community organisation over the next 12 months.

"Steele was a little bit sheepish running into his teammates and coaches again off the back of the events of two weeks ago," Buckley said.

"He is quite contrite and really willing to work out what he needs to do to have - as we'd normally expect from him - a really positive contribution to us both on and off the field."

Sidebottom will miss Collingwood's next two matches before he is available to play again from round nine.