Tim Membrey at centre of positive update after shock withdrawal from AFL finals game

The veteran player was a late withdrawal from St Kilda's clash with GWS in a worrying situation for the club.

Tim Membrey and his family.
Tim Membrey's wife had informed St Kilda players about the situation. Image: Getty/Instagram

St Kilda star Tim Membrey was back at pre-season training this week, with coach Ross Lyon saying he expects the AFL veteran to "really deliver" after missing the elimination final against Port Adelaide last season. Membrey was a late withdrawal from the clash against GWS in September due to an undisclosed "personal health matter" that had fans extremely worried.

Lyon said at the time it was a "delicate" situation, but has since been buoyed by Membrey's recovery and return to training. "He's in really good shape, he's blossoming, he feels good and he's got a lot of support," Lyon said on Wednesday.

"I think that's the beauty and there's no stigma. It's more complicated than it just seems, so we're thrilled with where he's at. Our two power forwards basically didn't play (last season) so I think (Anthony) Caminiti and (Mitch) Owens will look forward to playing with them."

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Membrey only played seven games in 2023 as he and fellow key forward Max King battled injuries. Lyon said the Saints would manage the 160-game veteran through the pre-season as he enters his 11th season in the AFL.

"As you get older you get (a bit of) wear and tear, so he's managed today but he basically hasn't missed a session," Lyon said. "He's four kilos lighter and back to his sort of fighting weight, so to speak, with what he's been in previous years. We're really expecting that he can really deliver and he's been a real leader here for a long time."

Tim Membrey in action for St Kilda in 2023. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Tim Membrey in action for St Kilda in 2023. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Tim Membrey details come to light after late finals withdrawal

The update on Membrey comes as welcome news for the Saints after the concerning development in September. The 29-year-old was removed from St Kilda's line-up just a few hours before first bounce against the Giants, before further details came to light.

At the time, Lyon said he received a call from the club doctor around 8am on the morning of the game. "Then I made a call to our GM (of footy) and then our CEO – and understood things fully,” he said. “Then it was ‘we’ll bring in Caminiti outside the 26, we need special consideration’ – and then you’re flagging (it with the) AFL, Giants – we went that path.

“And then there’s a lot of chatter with your group. So I made the decision when everyone arrives at 1.30, in (for a meeting). Shared what I could – because we always do – and then: ‘Anyone got any questions that we can answer?’ And then if anyone doesn’t feel they’re up to the challenge, there’s an emergency Ryan Byrnes ready to go, because there’s some people close to the situation. Tried to just get rid of legitimate conversations that would have occurred otherwise.

“You can’t quantify what effect (it had)…It was not ideal, but it was certainly no excuse. Some of those closest to Tim felt it didn’t affect them, like Seb Ross. We had the tools in the palette to pull out, but we didn’t apply them how we should have.”

Membrey's wife Emily had earlier contacted some of the other players' partners to inform them what was going on. It meant some players knew before they got to the ground, but others didn't.

Leading reporter Caroline Wilson told Channel 9: "Membrey’s wife had contacted partners of other players. Some players got to the ground knowing, but not knowing really how bad it was. Ross Lyon took the decision to address the players at their exit interviews today. Some players said it threw them a bit. I don’t think that they would have won the game, but it affected some players who were in shock.”

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