AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has urged troubled Kangaroos youngster Tarryn Thomas to “meet the club halfway”, despite calls for him to be allowed to return from his exile.
Thomas is currently away from the Kangaroos due to allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women, and has found himself in further hot water over a since-deleted social media video this week.
Speaking ahead of the AFL’s Gather Round in South Australia, McLachlan sent a clear message to the 23-year-old on what must be done if he is to return to North Melbourne.
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”He’s got to meet the club halfway,” he told Nine’s Footy Classified.
“I do believe you can have someone’s back and also hold them accountable.
“The football club will be great for Tarryn Thomas, but he has to meet them halfway and come back and say, ‘Yeah, I’m prepared to change and be a part of this team, be a part of this club and play by the broader cultural norms’.”
McLachlan’s call came after former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire suggested that the best way for Thomas to be rehabilitated was to be surrounded by strong figures within the Kangaroos’ set-up.
“I’ve been through this as a president for a long time and one of the things I always held dear to my heart was, your club have to take it (responsibility). If a player’s got fleas, they’re our fleas, and you have to look after him,” he told Footy Classified.
“I think what’s happening at the moment is he is living in a parallel universe on social media and away, so my point is this: it’s time to get him back into that football club.
“Have him next to Jy Simpkin and Luke McDonald in the dressing room. Have people like Jack Ziebell in his ear and have his coach Alastair Clarkson and people like Todd Viney and Sonja Hood around him.
“OK, we’ve got to punish him, this is not to give him a free ride, this is to get him in and give him a chance.
“We have to give them every chance we possibly can, and the only way this bloke is going to be able to come back is to get into a football structure and get himself going again and have the discipline around him, otherwise we’re going to lose an absolute champion player, but worse than that, a kid who’s got his life in front of him, and suddenly it’ll be behind him before he even knows.”
Essendon great Matthew Lloyd was less sympathetic towards the former No.8 pick, saying he’d become a “drainer” of resources at North.
Thomas in hot water over deleted video
“He’s an absolute drainer on the North Melbourne Football Club, and I don’t say that lightly,” he told Footy Classified.
“You’ve got that many players at North Melbourne and staff trying to turn that club around, trying to be respected again and stand for something, and the amount of time and energy they’re wasting on Tarryn Thomas.
“Whether you’re sending that (Instagram story) to one person or 10, it’s dangerous, it’s immature.
“Again, he’s losing more respect from the football world, but more importantly his teammates, and he’s paid hundreds of thousands of dollars while he’s not at the club.
“He’s going to realise – whether it’s next week, next month or in the next few years – that he’s wasted an amazing opportunity.”
Lloyd’s view was echoed by Geelong champion Jimmy Bartel, who also questioned the people around Thomas advising him.
“We want players to have lives, no one is denying that, but you are different. There are different standards for you to be an AFL footballer. It’s actually a privilege,” he told Footy Classified.
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“You can still have the life that you want to live, but there’s a certain standard that comes with being an AFL footballer.
“I don’t think that sort of behaviour – jumping in a car and going to Sydney – is acting your way in. Who’s advising him? If he’s called a mate and gone, ‘I’m going to head to Sydney’, surely someone’s going, ‘Should you?’.
“You can’t do anything about it if someone chooses not to listen.”
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