Greater Western Sydney have had a player meeting to emphasise the importance of staying on the straight and narrow, in the wake of Sydney defender Michael Talia’s drug charges.
Illicit drugs in the AFL are back in the news following Talia’s arrest near a Sydney nightclub early on Sunday morning, when he was allegedly caught in possession of cocaine.
Giants co-captain Callan Ward said it had prompted his club to re-address the pertinent issue with players.
“We had a small meeting about it this morning,” Ward said on Wednesday.
“We just mentioned that this is how easily it can happen if you get yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“That if you’re doing the wrong thing it can ruin careers, it can ruin seasons for some people.
“It’s just not worth the risk of things like that happening.
“So we addressed it a tiny bit this morning.”
Talia, who is due to face court next month, had only been a couple of weeks shy of a comeback from a foot injury that’s kept him sidelined since round one.
The 23-year-old has been stood down by the Swans, though the club are supporting both the player and his family.
Ward made it clear he did not know all the details but felt the Swans had dealt with the `sensitive’ situation well.
“The player welfare of Michael Talia is obviously the first priority,” he said.
“Until that happens here, hopefully I don’t have to deal with it.
“If it does, hopefully I can learn from the way the Swans are dealing with it.”
A key priority for Ward was the mental wellbeing of injured players, especially those enduring long-term rehabilitation programs such as Jarrod Pickett (foot) and Paul Ahern (ACL).
“Being in rehab is not the funnest place to be,” he said.
“It’s extremely boring … I can imagine how tough it gets.
“So it’s important for us as a playing group and leadership group to change our schedule up and always interact with them, take them out for dinner and hang out with them.”