Collingwood midfielder Jordan De Goey has been slapped with an AFL suspension after breaking his hand during a pub fight and deceiving the Magpies about the injury.
De Goey initially told the Magpies he had caught his hand on the edge of a door while throwing a toy for his pet dog.
But the 21-year-old admitted to club officials late on Monday that he had in fact hurt his hand while involved in a fight at a bar in St Kilda last Friday night.
De Goey, who insisted alcohol was not a factor in the incident, underwent surgery on Monday and is set to be sidelined for up to a month.
Collingwood imposed a three-match suspension, to be served once he is fully recovered from his injury, and fined De Goey $5000.
He will also undertake 10 weeks of community service.
The ordeal is an embarrassing distraction for the Magpies on the eve of the AFL season, especially considering coach Nathan Buckley repeated De Goey’s original story while speaking to media on Monday.
“You won’t believe me … he was playing with his dog,” Buckley said. “If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry about it — or I will, anyway.”
De Goey recorded a video on Tuesday afternoon to apologise to fans, teammates and coaches.
Magpies football boss Geoff Walsh says it was made clear to De Goey that it would not be easy for him to regain the trust of the club and his teammates.
“Jordan is a young man who made a mistake. That is one thing,” Mr Walsh said on Tuesday.
“The issue we have had to deal with over the last 24 hours is how he compounded that by misleading his teammates, coaches and all of the other people at Collingwood who are here to help him be the best player and person he can be.”
The bizarre explanation De Goey originally offered for the injury echoed a similar tale involving teammate Jeremy Howe, who was sidelined for several weeks with a broken finger in February 2016.
There was speculation at the time Howe was hurt during a game of cricket, but the Magpies were adamant it happened while playing frisbee with his dog.
De Goey has emerged as one of Collingwood’s most promising young midfielders and was expected to be an important contributor in his third AFL season.
He joins a growing injury list including star recruit Daniel Wells, Jamie Elliott and Levi Greenwood.