AFL journalist reinstated as WAG offers support

The wife of Richmond captain Trent Cotchin, Brooke, has apologised for breaching the AFL’s biosecurity rules and voiced her support for AFL Media journalist Mitch Cleary after he was stood down by the league at the weekend.

Cleary was stood down by the AFL after he shared Cotchin’s Instagram post which showed she had broken the league’s quarantine bubble to attend a day spa.

This afternoon the AFL released a statement explaining that decision and confirming Cleary had been reinstated.

Cotchin joined her husband in Queensland last week as part of a cohort of partners and families who relocated to the AFL hub in a bid to keep the season alive.

The Herald Sun reports that the AFL considered Cleary primarily as an employee of the company, overriding his duties as a journalist. The AFL directly ordered that Cleary be stood down.

Trent and Brooke Cotchin and their family (Instagram)

This afternoon, just hours before Cleary was reinstated, Cotchin posted a statement on Instagram apologising for her actions. She said she had told the AFL she did not agree with their decision to stand down Cleary.

“I don’t know Mitch Cleary, but I do not agree with him being stood down and I have voiced that to the AFL,” she wrote.

“It is his job and it does not help anyone’s situation especially in current circumstances. Unfortunately, I had no input and it is something that is out of my control.”

In a statement confirming Cleary’s reinstatement, the AFL said Cleary had been disciplined for mistakenly contravening an “editorial decision” made last week.

“Last week, AFL Media (afl.com.au) made an editorial decision to not name any family members relating to the recent club breaches of the Return to Play protocols,” the statement said.  

“The reasoning behind this decision was to protect the well-being of all individuals involved, a message that was reiterated in the official AFL Media Statement on Friday afternoon (31 July).  

“Mitch mistakenly did not follow his department’s editorial decision and named a family member on his own personal twitter channel on Friday evening.  

“Upon speaking to his Editor and then realising his tweet was at odds with AFL Media’s editorial decision, Mitch immediately removed his tweet and has acknowledged it was a mistake on his behalf.  

“The matter has now been resolved internally with Mitch today co-hosting the weekly show AFL Exchange on afl.com.au.”

In her Instagram post, Cotchin went on to apologise for her visit to the day spa and attempt to provide further context for why it happened.

“I wish to apologise for the mistake I have made and I am deeply sorry for any angst that I have created for anyone. It was an honest mistake and one that I am incredibly remorseful for,” she wrote.

“I am the first to admit I am not perfect, and I do make mistakes, this being one that I need to own and learn from. Yes, we are currently living by AFL protocols whilst being tested twice a week.

“I had well and truly completed my 2 weeks quarantine when I attended a licensed medical facility for a treatment. I would never have attended nor posted on my social media if I was clear this was not abiding by AFL protocol.

“We decided as a family to move into the hub so we could help the AFL push through with the remainder of the season. We are incredibly grateful to have this opportunity to be together through this time as I know many people do not have that choice.”

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said the saga had been “tough” on the Cotchins amid widespread uproar on social media, particularly concerning Cleary’s situation.

Trent Cotchin (Getty)

“I’m not going to lie it’s been tough on them. As Trent and Brooke do they take accountability and responsibility,” Hardwick told reporters on Monday.

“They admitted they were at fault. It’s been tough on them. The situation is we live and learn. Everyone’s up here trying to do the right thing but the reality is mistakes are going to be made.

“I think everyone’s going to put their best foot forward as best they can but we’ve just got to understand sometimes people are going to get things wrong.

“It’s not through any fault of their own, they just made an innocent mistake and we’re fully supportive of them and we understand that they’ve accepted responsibility and they’re prepared to move on pretty quickly. From our point of view it’s end of story.”

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