Banned pair face tough road back to AFL

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley will keep in touch with banned players Lachie Keeffe and Josh Keeffe, saying they must decide on their AFL futures.

Keeffe and Thomas announced on Monday they had accepted two-year anti-doping bans after they tested positive to clenbuterol.

They believe their positive tests in March this year were an unintended consequence of taking illicit drugs.

While furious at what has happened, Buckley has also said his heart bleeds for them and he hopes they will return to Collingwood.

Keeffe and Thomas also face a hard road back if they are to make AFL comebacks, let alone at Collingwood.

They will have to stay in shape and stay out of trouble.

Collingwood will delist them later this year, but want to bring them back through the rookie draft.

For that to happen, Keeffe and Thomas must rely on no other club picking them in the national or rookie drafts first.

Before any of that happens, Buckley said they must decide whether the AFL is still for them.

“That’s going to be their choice, but between now and draft time this year, it’s my intent to sit down with both of them individually and actually ask them what they want to do with their lives,” Buckley said on Wednesday.

“Is football a strong part of that?

“Now that Monday has passed, it probably gives the boys the first opportunity to actually sit back and go `okay, that’s what it is, I know exactly where I stand with the club, I know exactly where I stand with the AFL and ASADA, I know what my future looks like in some shape or form, is this really what I want to do?'”

Buckley said the early indication is that Keeffe and Thomas want to make AFL comebacks.

“But now the slate is clean, so to speak, and they know exactly what’s in front of them, I will sit down and talk to both the boys and get that confirmed,” he said.

“Then we’ll be full steam ahead.”

The bans for Keeffe and Thomas were backdated to March, 2015.

If Collingwood retain them on their list, they must stay away from the club until early 2017 – although the Magpies can help with support such as training advice.

“I certainly hope it (their bans) galvanises them towards maximising the talent they have on the footy field, that they want to be a part of this footy club and come back,” Buckley said.

“If they choose to have a crack at the footy, they’re going to have to keep themselves in some decent nick and keep themselves busy,” he said.

“Life goes on for them and down the track there’s the opportunity to play AFL again.”

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!