Less than a year after being investigated by the AFL integrity unit, defender Michael Talia is back in the headlines for the wrong reasons, with Sydney standing the defender down after he was charged with cocaine possession.
Talia was traded by the Western Bulldogs to the Swans in October 2015 after he allegedly shared confidential information with his brother and Adelaide defender Daniel before their two teams met in an elimination final.
While he was cleared of any wrongdoing, Talia left the Bulldogs on difficult terms to seek a fresh start at the Swans.
Talia made his Sydney debut in the round one 80-point thrashing of Collingwood, but suffered a serious foot injury that has kept him on the sidelines ever since.
He has resumed running but is still several weeks away from playing and now has another off-field hurdle to negotiate.
Talia was arrested in the Sydney suburb of Double Bay early on Sunday morning.
The 23-year-old is due to face Waverley Local Court on August 17, after which the AFL will make a decision with the club on any consequences.
If the charge is proved, it will count as a strike under the league’s revised two-strikes illicit drugs policy.
Swans football manager Tom Harley said the matter involving Talia was extremely disappointing.
“He’s given us his version of the events, but given it’s before the courts I won’t go into any of that,” Harley said.
“He’s been honest as much as we can ascertain.”
Harley said Sydney’s board and leadership group were among the parties involved in the decision to stand down Talia.
“It is an extremely disappointing thing to deal with and the players certainly hold that view as well,” Harley said.
Sydney are renowned for their strong player driven “Bloods” culture and standards of behaviour.
Harley stressed the Swans’ action to stand Talia down was an interim measure and not a judgment on the player.
“We’re certainly not pre-empting how it will play out in a legal sense, but from a club’s point of view, we take this matter extremely seriously and therefore that’s been the course of action that we’ve taken,” Harley said.
“We’ve taken the path to stand him down as an immediate response, it’s not a definitive response.
“We’ll continue to ask the right questions and make sure we get all the facts before we work out exactly what we do going forward.”
Harley stressed the club would continue to offer support behind the scenes to Talia.
The AFL will wait until the court date has passed before making a decision on what action Talia could face under league rules.