The AFL has cleared Geelong Cats’ Jack Steven of any breach of the competition’s rules or COVID-19 protocols after he suffered a stab wound in May.
The announcement clears the way for Steven, who the Cats recruited from St Kilda last year, to potentially return to football in Friday’s clash against Hawthorn.
The AFL on Monday said an inquiry into Steven suffering an injury to his chest “has been completed and the matter is now closed”.
“As per normal procedure, the AFL Integrity Department waited until after Victoria Police had closed its inquiry into the matter, before seeking details from Steven,” the AFL said in a statement.
“The AFL Integrity Department is satisfied with Steven’s explanation and has determined there was no breach of AFL Rules or breach of any of the COVID-19 protocols that are currently in place.
“While the matter is now closed, the welfare of Steven remains the priority for the AFL and the Geelong Football Club.”
The AFL, Geelong Cats and Victoria Police are yet to reveal any of the circumstances surrounding the stabbing.
But Geelong general manager of football Simon Lloyd last week told the club’s podcast series To the Final Bell that Steven was making rapid progress.
“He’s going well. He’s back into full training and he’s desperate to get going again and play,” Lloyd said.
“He’ll start to be introduced to the competitive stuff over the coming sessions.”
The four-time St Kilda Best and Fairest winner missed round 1 against the Giants after tweaking his calf, but played well against Essendon in the pre-season.
Cats players were hoping Steven could return to football soon, according to Lloyd.
“Jack, as I’ve stated publicly, is very popular amongst the group,” he said.
“As he played at St Kilda, he’s a hard worker, he leaves everything out there on the park and he’s in a good frame of mind. He’s getting himself ready.”
Lloyd said Steven had been talking to police and “in constant communication with the AFL” about the incident.
“I’m sure at some stage, at the right time, the AFL will put out some sort of statement.
“From right through the process, the club has been focused wholly and solely on Jack’s health and wellbeing.”