The AFL and AFL Players’ Association (AFLPA) have called in the same grief counsellors who assisted after the shock death of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes to help the Adelaide Crows following the murder of their coach Phil Walsh.
Paul Marsh, AFLPA chief executive, said he contacted the counselling group on Friday morning to work with the Crows’ players and staff.
He said the AFL had also reached out to the organisation, who helped the cricketers after Test batsman Hughes died after he was felled by a ball last November.
“I obviously had an understanding of what was used with the Australian cricket team and reached out to them,” Marsh said.
“The company we are using are experts in this space.”
Marsh said the Crows’ players he had spoken to were devastated.
He said he had also spoken to players from a number of clubs, who backed the AFL’s decision to go ahead with the round with the exception of Sunday’s Crows-Geelong match.
“We touched base with players from all teams to get a sense of it and the absolute right decision has been made,” Marsh said.
“The general sense was that we need to get on with business but there was also a strong view that if the industry felt it was inappropriate to play, then the players would 100 per cent support that.”
Marsh commended the AFL for proceeding in that way.
“For the AFL to cancel the game on Sunday at a time when players clearly wouldn’t be up for it is the right move and commendable and we congratulate Gil McLachlan and the AFL for doing so,” Marsh said.
He wasn’t sure when the Crows’ players would be ready to resume playing but predicted they would be in for a tough season.
“It’s going to be very, very difficult and time will tell on this one.”