St Kilda coach Ross Lyon has opened up on the “complex” and “delicate” pre-game situation he and his club faced on the weekend, but stated forward Tim Membrey was receiving “really good ongoing care”.
The Saints on Saturday morning released a statement confirming Membrey had been withdrawn from the team to face the Giants in the elimination final, adding the goalkicker was “receiving appropriate care and treatment due to a personal health matter”.
St Kilda, hours later, was eliminated from the 2023 finals race, going down to the Giants by 24 points.
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Speaking on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 on Monday night, Lyon said it was a “delicate situation”, but assured Saints supporters Membrey was receiving “really good ongoing care” and that the club was “really optimistic” the player would be “in good shape again in the near future”.
Lyon added: “Our support for Tim and Emily is unwavering and the AFL has leant in and buying in.”
Lyon then explained the chain of events upon hearing of Membrey’s unavailability to play.
“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.
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“We had the tools in the palette to pull out, but we didn’t apply them how we should have.”
Lyon said he sensed days before the game his playing group wasn’t as relaxed as they usually are, adding he’d done a lot of self-reflection since Saturday’s loss.
“Historically getting teams to the line to be able to play their optimum with effort and freedom to compete and give their best effort, I think, has been a feature of the groups I’ve been involved in. I felt that didn’t happen on the weekend,” he said.
“I start with myself (when assessing). It was a complex day, but I sensed they were really tight.
“There was a meeting on the Thursday where I crack a dad joke – and they normally just laugh because you’re the senior coach – and I said ‘gee we’re tight here boys’. So I sacheyed and still no love.
“Game day, there was a lot of complexity. All credit to the Giants, they were super, we knew what was coming and we just couldn’t match it. But I thought our effort, our overall hardness and just that real spirit – and we’re a good running team – we just weren’t at the level that I thought, win or lose, we would be at.
“So I’m looking at our how I prepped them to the line, so I take that pretty seriously.”