Tim Watson has taken Nathan Buckley to task after Jaidyn Stephenson detailed his messy exit from Collingwood.
On Thursday, Stephenson said he was “hurt” by the way he was pushed out the door at Collingwood and said he had to instigate the only contact he had with a senior club official regarding his move.
The former Rising Star award winner endured a difficult 2020 season that ended with him becoming a victim of the Magpies’ salary cap squeeze.
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On Thursday he was traded to North Melbourne, where he has signed a five-year contract.
But the 21-year-old said he was shocked when his manager told him days before the AFL trade period that he would likely be offloaded.
Stephenson claimed his only contact with a senior Collingwood official about his playing future was when he later called coach Buckley for clarification over his status, and was told to pursue opportunities at rival clubs.
“I thought everything was going well but it wasn't until about three weeks ago I realised how ruthless this AFL business is,” Stephenson told Trade Radio.
“I am a little bit hurt. I loved all the boys, the coaches, the support staff, they were all fantastic to me.
“I enjoyed being there, so being told almost in a way that you're not wanted, it does hurt.”
On Friday morning, Essendon legend Watson said there was no issue with Collingwood trading Stephenson, but slammed the club for allegedly failing to let the youngster know.
“My issue is this, and it’s the only question I want answered,” Watson said on SEN Breakfast.
“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.
“I’m still struggling to believe that it played out like that. It beggars belief, if it played out like that. Because there’s two sides to a story.”
Nathan Buckley shattered over trade fiasco
Buckley described seeing three best-22 players depart in cut-price AFL trades as his toughest day in footy.
The Magpies are reeling after Stephenson, star midfielder Adam Treloar and wingman Tom Phillips were forced elsewhere as they contend with a salary cap debacle.
Buckley, who lost two grand finals as a Collingwood player and one as a coach, was shattered by losing the talented trio, as well as three-game youngster Atu Bosenavulagi.
“My toughest day in footy.... bar none,” Buckley wrote on Twitter.
“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.”
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.
— Nathan Buckley (@ncb_cfc) November 12, 2020
But Buckley’s tweet didn’t go down well with Watson either.
“The tweet was about him, saying it was his toughest day in football,” Watson added.
“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 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.”
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