Claims of 'wife-sharing' slur add to Adelaide Crows scandal

Adelaide Crows players, pictured here before the 2017 AFL Grand Final.
Adelaide Crows players line up for the national anthem before the 2017 AFL Grand Final. (Photo by Matt King/AFL Media/Getty Images)

More disturbing details have emerged about the Adelaide Crows’ ill-fated training camp in the pre-season of 2018.

The camp has been widely blamed for fracturing the playing group, with the extreme psychological methods employed still making headlines.

Having made the grand final in 2017 but losing, the camp was designed to take the Crows from grand finalists to ruthless premiers.

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However it completely backfired.

Adelaide failed to make the finals in the next two seasons and are bottom of the ladder with an 0-6 record in 2020.

Now, more details have emerged about what went on behind closed doors at the camp on the Gold Coast, run by consultancy group Collective Mind.

The Herald Sun has quoted an ‘insider’ from the camp who claims the players were told they needed to be “so tight that if a teammate slept with your wife it would be OK”.

“We were in such a state of confusion, it was like a trance, there were times where we would come-to two days after and say, ‘What did we just do?’,” the source told the Herald Sun.

“It’s hard to remember exactly what we did or what was said and we were in different groups.”

The ‘wife-sharing’ accusation was reportedly put to a senior club official, who didn’t respond.

“The camp was more than two years ago and there has been considerable personnel changes both on and off the field, and the club is now focussed on this season and beyond,” the club said in a statement.

“As previously stated, the AFL conducted a thorough investigation and found there was no breach of industry rules.”

Previous reports have detailed how players were greeted by masked men wielding fake automatic weapons and past psychological traumas experienced by players were used against them.

Players reportedly gathered in a room together on the final day of the camp and openly wept.

Former coach opens up on camp fallout

Having taken the club to the 2017 grand final, coach Don Pyke resigned at the end of the 2019 season when his position became untenable amidst the ongoing fallout from the controversial camp.

Pyke, who departed the club with football chief Brett Burton and assistant coach Scott Camporeale, admits there were problems with the camp that he subjected his players to.

But he won't cop the blame for the Crows' on-field fall from grace.

“I think it's a long bow to draw,” Pyke told ABC Grandstand on Thursday night.

“I think the list at Adelaide is going through a transitional phase, there's no question about that.

“We've seen that some players have left the club for various reasons.

“They're starting to expose some of those (younger) guys to AFL footy and with that will go consistency.

“I think if you asked those guys some of them would go 'Well, the performance now has nothing to do with what happened on a camp two-and-a-half years ago'.”

Don Pyke, pictured here at a press conference in 2018.
Don Pyke speaks to the media during a press conference in 2018. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Rookie coach Matthew Nicks, who has only been in the job for nine months, has been forced to defend his club’s culture in the ongoing aftermath of a camp that players continue to be asked about.

“It's probably disappointing that it's continuing to be discussed,” Pyke said.

“Clearly the club's viewpoint is that they want to move on. I know that talking to some of the players who are still there they clearly want to leave that behind and focus on their footy going forward.

“I think it's probably a conversation that's due with the club about how they wish to address this once and for all.

“As I've said previously, the intention around that camp was very clear (but) the execution had some gaps and holes and some mistakes were made. That's been addressed.

“But I think there's also an issue at the moment with some context around some of the things that were done and the purpose behind those, which probably hasn't been tabled.”

The club was cleared of any serious rules breaches by the AFL integrity unit following an investigation that has also been criticised in some quarters.

with AAP