Caroline Wilson defiant amid criticism over 'ignorant' AFL take

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Caroline Wilson is standing by her comments criticising two St Kilda players for missing last weekend's match against Adelaide.
Veteran AFL reporter Caroline Wilson has defended her criticism of St Kilda's Seb Ross and Tim Membrey, who missed last weekend match due to family reasons. Pictures: Channel 9/Instagram

AFL reporter Caroline Wilson has stood behind her suggestion St Kilda players would be 'disappointed' with two teammates missing games to be with family despite fierce criticism.

Wilson defended her comments suggesting Saints players would be in their rights to be frustrated by Tim Membrey and Seb Ross' decision to miss Sunday's narrow loss to Adelaide, describing her criticism as 'perfectly reasonable'.

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In the latest episode of her Don't Shoot the Messenger podcast, Wilson said she was standing by her comments and said there was 'disappointment' in Ross within St Kilda.

“I was just surprised, personally, that Seb Ross would (leave) - I wondered whether there was a medical problem with the twins and I established there wasn’t. I suppose my feelings were reflected by people across the AFL,” she said.

“I’m gonna own what I said because I said it, but pretty much everyone I spoke to in footy said, ‘Oh yeah, I agree with you but I couldn’t say that I’m not gonna say that. I’m a man. I’m not gonna say that.’

“These (people) are from AFL headquarters to clubs, to the footy club itself. I know that senior leaders at the club tried to talk to Seb about staying.

“As it turns out, St Kilda lost the game by less than a kick to the Crows, their finals chances are now over and there was a significant level of disappointment within that club to the decision particularly by Seb.”

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Wilson was steadfast despite criticism from the likes of former AFL great Garry Lyon, while AFL Players Association boss Paul Marsh labelled the comments 'ignorant' in a post on Twitter.

"I’m shocked these outdated & ignorant views still exist within the industry," he wrote. 

"The players have, & will continue to support the industry throughout the uncertainty of COVID, but there are times when family comes first. 

"This should be supported not questioned."

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Caroline Wilson slammed over St Kilda comments

Wilson argued on Footy Classified 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.

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?”

St Kilda's Tim Membrey missed last weekend's match against Adelaide for family reasons. (Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)
St Kilda's Tim Membrey missed last weekend's match against Adelaide for family reasons. (Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

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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