Essendon legend turned media personality Tim Watson has ripped into Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley over the club’s treatment of one of the many stars it’s pushed out the door this Trade Period.
The Pies punted Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson, Tom Phillips and Atu Bosenavulagi as they reportedly shaved nearly $2 million off their salary cap.
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Externally, the mass exodus was viewed as a salary cap dump after Collingwood had mismanaged its list while internally, the club was saying everything was done with an eye to better positioning itself in the draft.
Stephenson, the Rising Star in 2018, still had two years to run on his contract but was told to look for a new home and will play for North Melbourne next year.
He wanted to remain at Collingwood and said the news he was to be traded came as a shock, especially when he had to ring Buckley himself because he hadn’t heard anything from the Pies.
“A couple of days before the trade period my manager mentioned I might be traded. It was a bit of a shock at the time but I have now got my head around it,” Stephenson told SEN’s Bob and Andy.
“I wanted to stay. I loved my time at the club and the relationships I built but I’m sure I can do that at North Melbourne.”
Watson said he had no issue if Collingwood thought the best play was to move Stephenson on, but he was filthy at reports the club didn’t have the courtesy to let him know, instead waiting until the 21-year-old picked up the phone himself to call his coach.
“My issue is this, and it’s the only question I want answered,” Watson said on SEN Breakfast, the radio show he co-hosts with fellow AFL great Garry Lyon.
“Who from the Collingwood Football Club thought it might be important to sit down with this 21-year-old young man, who is a touch vulnerable, who we had enough faith to give him an extension on a contract nine months ago, who among us thought it might be good idea to pick a phone up and say, ‘Mate, it hasn’t worked out’?
“If they do that, then that’s fair enough. I have no criticism.
“Front up, man up. That kid got told and then had to wait a week and heard nothing. This is what he’s told us on two occasions.
“Nothing, and he had to pick the phone up to the coach. Come on.
“Nathan Buckley once said, ‘Be better’. Be better, Bucks. Be better than that, if that is the case.”
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Jaidyn Stephenson didn’t want to leave.Source:Getty Images
Watson was referring to Buckley’s comments in August when he said “I need to be better, we need to be better” after costing his club $25,000 when he and assistant coach Brenton Sanderson broke biosecurity protocols in Perth by playing tennis.
Buckley took to Twitter on Thursday night after the trade deadline had passed, writing: “My toughest day in footy … bar none.
“Managing contracted players who love the environment out of the club is a lose/lose situation in the short term. The decisions aren’t popular but they were necessary.
“I wish Adam, Jaidyn, Tom and Atu all the best at their new clubs.”
But that didn’t wash with Watson, who said Collingwood fans deserve more clarity over what has widely been described as a “fire sale”, rather than hearing about the coach’s tough day at the office.
“I’m still struggling to believe that it played out like that,” Watson said. “It beggars belief, if it played out like that. Because there’s two sides to a story.
“But we need to hear from Nathan Buckley. The tweet was about him, saying it was his toughest day in football.
“No one wants to hear that, sorry Nathan. Nobody wants to hear how tough it was for you.
“We’re talking about how tough it is for others and how tough it is for Collingwood fans.
“The amount of the spin that Collingwood are applying to this is extraordinary.
“You want to hear from the man (Buckley) who preaches solidarity, honesty, openness, side-by-side, in it together. I admire the Collingwood footy club, have admired them for a long time.
“Not on this occasion.”
There are no thumbs up from Collingwood at the moment.Source:News Corp Australia
PIES HIT BACK AT STEPHENSON’S CLAIMS
Collingwood General Manager of Football Geoff Walsh hit back at Stephenson’s claims in a radio interview on Friday morning, saying the young gun was clear on where he stood.
“I really can’t let Jaidyn’s comments be etched in history as the version of what he said,” Walsh told the Triple M Hot Breakfast.
“Now I’m not saying he’s been mischievous or anything, but certainly throughout the year on a number of occasions, Jaidyn was spoken to by both teammates and coaches and administration on what he needed to do to become or get back to being the footballer that he briefly displayed in his first year — what he needed to do if he wanted to continue to be a good quality AFL player, and a good quality Collingwood AFL player.
“So that was reinforced to him on a number of occasions, and then in the exit interview which was only a day or so after he left the hub, those points were all reinforced in terms of where we see his career at that particular moment, and where we predicted … it may ebb and flow depending on a response from him.
“As I say, I can’t let that particular comment go and remain unanswered … and that’s not me being critical of the boy, but it’s certainly providing some balance.”
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