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Veteran AFL reporter Caroline Wilson has been slammed for criticising two St Kilda players who left their team and returned home for family reasons.
Ace forward Tim Membrey and dual best-and-fairest winner Seb Ross were unavailable for St Kilda's heartbreaking loss to Adelaide over the weekend, after leaving the Saints' hub to be with their loved ones.
St Kilda blew a 36-point lead to lose 9.12 (66) to 8.12 (60) in a result that leaves their top eight hopes all but shot.
The Saints are now 5-8 and with the second-worst percentage in the competition.
The situation led Wilson to question why the two players missed the crucial clash against the Crows, with Ross leaving to be with his partner and their newborn twins - born five weeks ago.
Membrey also decided to leave the Cairns hub to be with his wife, who is due to give birth shortly.
Wilson argued that because there was "no medical emergency" associated with either situation, it was an "odd" call by the players to miss a crunch clash when their team's finals hopes were on the line.
“It is a very odd situation when you have two leaders of the club, particularly one where the babies were born five or six weeks ago, to leave when this was probably their last shot at making finals,” Wilson said on Nine's Footy Classified.
“I think supporters and sponsors and members and other teammates would have every right to be a bit disappointed.”
AFL great takes aim at Caro
However, AFL legend Garry Lyon slammed Wilson's opinion and suggested she had no right commenting on the personal situations of players.
“So, Caro is suggesting she knows better than the Ross family? I would suggest that’s a conversation she would not want to have with Seb Ross’ wife and/or mother or family members that she has in her opinion said there are no medical problems,” Lyon told SEN Breakfast on Tuesday.
“How she can make a judgment on the family situation of a young mother with twins from afar and say, ‘Why didn’t they bow to peer pressure these blokes and stay?’
“I’m almost speechless with this one. To think you can sit there on national television and speak for the family, ‘I must stress there is no medical problem’. Oh really Caro? You stress that do you? You would know, would you?”
The Melbourne great says rather than criticise the personal situations of players, Wilson and other critics should show more empathy and "respect" for their decisions.
“We are trying to have our minds around if a player says they need time out for whatever reason we go, ‘OK, there’s a great reason for that, we respect it, good luck’,” he said.
“If a player says they have a family issue, a baby pending, I need to be home — the footy world goes, ‘OK’. We’ve been conditioned to be much more empathetic.
“I’m almost speechless … they may need to take time away. It’s none of our business.
“If someone says they need to be at home with their family, good. We love you and we support you.
“Not, ‘Supporters, sponsors and everyone else is going to be disappointed with you’.”
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