‘Players in shock’ over star’s private matter

Ross Lyon has opened up on the pre-match incident that saw a Saints star pull out in a matter that needs to be handled with care.

AFL: St Kilda coach Ross Lyon joins AFL 360 to explain the chain of events on Saturday morning that led to Tim Membrey’s late withdrawal.

The St Kilda forward was a bombshell late omission from the club’s elimination final loss to the Giants on Saturday with the football club announcing he was dealing with a “personal health matter”.

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Lyon on Monday night said Membrey is receiving “really good ongoing care” after an incident that saw St Kilda’s club doctor call him at 8am the morning of the match.

It comes as veteran football journalist Caroline Wilson on Monday night said Membrey is being treated through the AFL’s “mental health umbrella”.

Wilson said on Channel 9’s Footy Classified Membrey’s situation left some teammates in “shock”.

“Tim Membrey and we wish him all the best is under the care of the AFL mental health umbrella,” she said.

“It was a terrible blow to receive on Saturday morning.”

She went on to say: “Membrey’s wife had contacted partners of other players. Some players got to the ground knowing, but not knowing really how bad it was.

“Ross Lyon took the decision to address the players at their exit interviews today. Some players said it threw them a bit.

“I don’t think that they would have won the game, but it affected some players who were in shock.”

Lyon on Monday night told Fox Footy’s AFL 360 it was a “delicate situation”.

Tim Membrey of the Saints. Photo by Michael Klein.

Tim Membrey and Max King celebrate a goal with a hug. Photo by Michael Klein.

“Our support for Tim and Emily is unwavering and the AFL has leant in and buying in,” he said.

From a purely football perspective, the Saints were forced to make drastic moves with Teenager Anthony Caminiti being called into the team, despite not being listed in the extended list of reserves.

“I got a call at quarter past eight in the morning from the club doctor … And then I made a call to our GM (of footy) and then our CEO – and understood things fully,” he said.

“Then it was ‘we’ll bring in (Anthony) Caminiti outside the 26, we need special consideration’ – and then you’re flagging (it with the) AFL, Giants – we went that path. In hindsight, maybe we would have played (Dougal) Howard, Cordy forward just to be able to contain all information and protect the day, our players. But because we didn’t do that, once there’s an oil spill, media release, communique.

“And then there’s a lot of chatter with your group. So I made the decision when everyone arrives at 1.30, in (for a meeting). Shared what I could – because we always do – and then: ‘Anyone got any questions that we can answer?’ And then if anyone doesn’t feel they’re up to the challenge, there’s an emergency Ryan Byrnes ready to go, because there’s some people close to the situation. Tried to just get rid of legitimate conversations that would have occurred otherwise.

“One player said today ‘it’s just a bit confusing just trying to figure it out’, but that was the situation we’re in. So unique, no rule book, but just try and be as honest and get the ability to reset.

“You can’t quantify what effect (it had) … It was not ideal, but it was certainly no excuse. Some of those closest to Tim felt it didn’t affect them, like Seb Ross.

“We had the tools in the palette to pull out, but we didn’t apply them how we should have.”

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