Thomas resumed training with his team-mates two weeks ago after a brief hiatus from the club when allegations of harassment and intimidating behavior towards another woman were made by the AFL’s integrity department.
A statement from North Melbourne at the time said he would not stand for selection until his respectful behavior training and education program was completed “to the club’s satisfaction”.
Thomas has yet to complete that program, but a club source said Age he put his heart and soul into it. He can play in the VFL games because it’s not about Premiership points, just to make sure he can improve his stamina. There is no definitive timeline as to when Thomas will be back in the senior division.
The Roos’ general manager of football, Todd Viney, said in late February that the club’s leadership group will have a say if Thomas is eligible for the AFL selection.
“He must continue to contribute to his programs, [and] spend time away from the club after completing these programs,” Viney said. “We have to see responsibility and the way he talks about the experience continues in the right way and he obviously has a month of training to catch up on so there’s a lot to do physically and an educational sense.”
Thomas is one of North’s most talented players and had a breakthrough season in 2021 before playing just 10 games last season due to injuries, conditioning and personal furlough following the death of his grandmother.
But his return remains a complex issue for the Kangaroos and the AFL given the seriousness of the charges.
Key Tiger wants to play, Betts hints at end of drought in Blues finals
Jon Pierik, Andrew Wu
Richmond star Jayden Short is ready to chime the clock and start on Thursday night as former Carlton star Eddie Betts declared the end of the blues’ decades-long drought is near.
The Tigers had said it was “unlikely” Short would recover from a calf strain in time to face the Blues in the season-opening blockbuster, but the double-header Premier League hero trained heavily on Tuesday and is expected to play alongside esteemed midfielder Dion Prestia play. Both were injured in a training game against Melbourne two weekends ago.
Richmond stars Jack Graham (toe) and Marlion Pickett (adductors) are available but may have to wait for a senior game after missing practice games.
“[It’s a] bodes well for any player to get through a main session,” said Tigers spearhead Tom Lynch. “There was a bit of doubt last week, but getting through the main session is very encouraging.”
The Blues are expected to name key defender Mitch McGovern, who has missed the club’s official training games, but Ruckmann Marc Pittonet and forward Jack Martin are no certainties. The Blues have already announced that Lachie Cowan and Ollie Hollands will be drafted. The pair have signed two-year contract extensions that will keep them in navy blue through at least the end of 2026.
Betts doesn’t want to mention the F-word, but says it’s time for the blues to perform in September.
The Blues were in the top eight last season until the last night of home and away games when they lost a point to Collingwood. That capped four consecutive defeats, including a heartbreaking five-point loss to Melbourne a week earlier.
Skipper Patrick Cripps said last week the Blues had learned a lot from this last month, with Betts tentatively picking the Blues alive in September for the first time since 2013 when they only made it to the final due to Essendon’s suspension.
“As a supporter, last year was her year. How many more years can we say, ‘It’s her year?’ Carlton fans are clamoring for Finals footy,” said Betts, a blues life member and Native American leader who played 218 games in two stints at the club.
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“Only two kicks were missing from the last two games [last year]. I think they will reach the final. [But] You don’t want to say the ‘F’ word when it comes to Carlton.
“Jack Martin had a great pre-season, it’s disappointing Zac Williams got injured but Harry did [McKay] and Charlie [Curnow] are both fit. Cripps looks in good shape. I think it’s her time. You have to take the next step.”
Coach Michael Voss said the Blues are looking to continue to be successful but need to learn how to handle pressure better and stay on schedule for longer.
“We keep growing. We continue to try to increase our capacities in all areas,” said Voss.
Voss said veteran Sam Docherty will spend time in his usual role at half-back, with stints in midfield.
He said the plan was for Sam Walsh to get into full training “in the next few weeks” and dismissed suggestions that the dominant midfielder, who is recovering from back surgery, could be a surprise pick for the Tigers.
Betts, meanwhile, has a close relationship with Williams, who will miss the entire 2023 season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament.
Betts was assistant coach at Geelong during the Cats Premiership season last year but has left the club to help all clubs with indigenous and cultural programs while also commentating for Fox Footy.
Betts, a three-time All Australian and Grand Finalist with Adelaide, who bravely addressed racial issues in his life and football career in a confrontational autobiography last year, said he will not return to coaching, at least in the short term.
“I think I won’t be going back into coaching for a while. I want to remain independent of the AFL and hold the clubs accountable and I want to improve their culture especially when it comes to the Aboriginal section of the Footy Club and help the Aboriginal players in the AFL,” he said.
“I felt attached to Geelong, I couldn’t express myself more fully.”
Magpie’s Crisp answer to haters
Collingwood midfielder Jack Crisp has given those who predict the Magpies will slip this year some ‘stuff’, arguing his side are better positioned in their second year under manager Craig McRae.
A number of analysts, including former coach Nathan Buckley, have pointed to Collingwood’s record in close games in 2022 and believe the Magpies cannot repeat the magical run that propelled them all but a kick to the Grand Finals.
But Crisp, speaking at Tuesday’s All-Star Mile Barrier draw, believed the Pies could convert those narrow victories into more comfortable ones in 2023.
“Stop them I guess,” Crisp said when asked what he would say to those predicting a Magpies slide.
“We have worked a lot on how we can put together four-quarter games. We would prefer not to have as many close games as possible, but the experience we had last year will only help us in the long run.
“Fingering we don’t have to have too many close games.”
Crisp predicted a cold reception for his former teammate Ollie Henry as the Pies meet Geelong in Friday night’s season opener. Henry is sure to line up in the Cats’ forward line, which may or may not include Tom Hawkins.
“I’m not much of a sleigh rider, I’m more of a ‘going about our business’ guy, but maybe a nudge or a nudge here or there will put him out of his game,” Crisp said.
“We will see how it goes on.
“If we cross the white line on Friday it will be a very intense fight. I feel like there’s going to be a lot of pressure of course and both teams are very keen to start the year with probably a great win.”
Geelong wingman Isaac Smith said he warned Henry to expect some flak from the Magpies loyalists.
“I had a joke with him the other day saying I played Hawthorn on Easter Monday and made a few boos but I guess you could have a few more this week,” laughed Smith.
“I think it’s all just a joke, it’s a good joke and that’s why the fans are rocking to the footy, isn’t it?
“There’s going to be a lot of banter because I’m sure Geelong and Collingwood fans have been in on it all summer and it’s a big game, especially after last year’s finals series.”
https://www.smh.com.au/sport/afl/crying-out-for-finals-footy-blues-will-break-september-drought-this-year-says-betts-20230313-p5crj5.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport Time for Carlton Blues to reach finals, says Eddie Betts