MELBOURNE will not penalise three of its players who drank in Bay 13 at the Boxing Day Test, but will use the incident as an opportunity to educate its playing group about the consequences of the decisions they make when away from the club.
Melbourne director of sports performance Neil Craig said the club's decision in relation to the incident that captured media attention soon after Christmas had been made after all the facts had been gathered.
He emphasised that the players involved – James Frawley, Lynden Dunn and Jeremy Howe – had not been evicted from the ground. Instead, said Craig, the trio chose, after discussion with MCG security, to accept it was in everyone's best interests that they leave the area after attracting attention from sections of the crowd.
However, he did concede the players may have made some errors of judgment on the day that put them in a position they could not manage.
Craig said the experience would facilitate discussion among the group about what was required in the life of an AFL player and an elite sportsman.
"You start to discuss topics of responsibility, accountability, perception, ripple effect in a footy club, is it fair versus unfair, is it a normal lifestyle or an abnormal lifestyle?" he said on Wednesday.
He acknowledged that the initial perception created was negative and that the players would be made aware of the ripple effect throughout the club that comes with such coverage.
But Melbourne did not want the players to feel they had to isolate themselves from the general public.
"They are the sort of things you discuss: the environment you put yourself into, should you or shouldn't you, what are the negatives of doing it, what are the positives of doing it," Craig said.
"Clearly there are some situations you need to think through and make good choices."
Craig said there were positives and negatives to being in the public eye but indicated that the quicker players accepted the reality of the environment they were operating in, then the greater likelihood positive outcomes would result.
"[If you] put your hand up to be part of this industry [then] that is what you sign on for and it is not a matter of debating whether it was fair or unfair. That is what it is and professional people accept it and manage it and make it part of their lifestyle," Craig said.
He said the club's responsibility was to equip its players with the skills to manage certain situations rather than debating the merits of whether the perception created was fair or not fair.
Craig said although Frawley, a member of the club's leadership group in 2012, was involved, it should have no impact on his capacity to hold a position within the leadership group in 2013.
However he did say Frawley's presence would add another layer to the conversation the group was likely to have, as to what extra responsibilities, if any, came with the title.
Melbourne's 2013 leadership group is likely to be appointed later in the month.
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