St Kilda president Matt Finnis has responded to veteran AFL reporter Caroline Wilson's suggestion the Saints were 'disappointed' in Seb Ross and Tim Membrey after they missed last Sunday's loss to Adelaide.
Wilson said on Footy Classified on Monday that teammates, fans and sponsors had grounds to be upset with the pair, who missed the crucial clash for family reasons.
Her comments have since attracted substantial backlash from figures within the football world, and on Wednesday, St Kilda boss Finnis had his say.
Speaking with Gerard Whateley on SEN Radio, Finnis admitted the club had 'debated' the decision but ultimately stood firmly behind the two players.
“What I will say is that like any organisation that’s in a highly competitive industry, we debate these decisions," Finnis said.
"But ultimately, once decisions are made, we get behind the players and we give them our support and we get on with our business.”
“You can be disappointed, but you can be understanding. I don’t think emotions are mutually exclusive.
“As a CEO, I’d love to have our best players on the park, but I do that every week.
“But as a father, I also understand that we’ve got to prioritise what we know is important with our families. No one can know that except for the family themselves.
“I just feel like sometimes we can have a lack of empathy about that in the way in which these things are discussed.”
Wilson defended her comments on her podcast, arguing she was bringing up a reasonable debate.
AFL players condemn Caroline Wilson remarks
However, Richmond star Jack Riewoldt was disappointed in Wilson's remarks, labelling them 'idiotic'.
Discussing the issue on Fox Footy program AFL 360, Riewoldt said it was 'irresponsible' to make comments about anybody's medical situation without being 100% sure of it.
Wilson had said there was 'no medical emergency' and labelled the pair's decision to leave an 'odd situation'.
Riewoldt was having none of it.
“I think it’s idiotic to be honest what we’re talking about here. I feel for their partners and their families having their personal life played out in front of the whole footballing public,” he said.
“It makes no sense to me that someone would come out and criticise someone that’s gone home to do something for their family.
“To then make comment and not even know what it is they’re going back for I think is a little bit irresponsible as well.”
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.”
Despite her defence, Wilson also copped criticism from the likes of AFL great Garry Lyon, who said he was left 'speechless' and AFL Players Association boss Paul Marsh.
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