Richmond vice-captain Jack Riewoldt says Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones’ COVID-19 protocol breaches were an “expensive” and “damaging” lesson but the test of the AFL club’s culture will be how it moves forward.
Stack and Coleman-Jones were removed from the Tigers’ Queensland hub after leaving in an uber, visiting a strip club and then being involved in a drunken fight early on Friday morning.
Riewoldt said he and his teammates had learned of the pair’s breaches on Friday morning and were “gutted,” but said the Tigers wouldn’t ostracise them.
“We’ve had two young men make … a lot of very poor decisions and the easy thing to do is ostracise them from the group and say ‘look, that was their choice’,” Riewoldt told SEN’s Tiger Time.
“But the sign of a good football club and the sign of a good organisation is that we own it.”
Stack and Coleman-Jones were both suspended for ten matches by the AFL while the Tigers were fined $100,000 for a second breach by members of their club travel bubble.
Their actions also leave the Tigers at risk of losing premiership points or draft picks if the club breaches protocols a third time.
“That’s not going to define us in the back end of the season … but we’ve got to learn our lesson from it because we’re in a position where we’re right on the borderline of going over into the next stage of punishments, which are pretty severe,” Riewoldt said.
“So we’re on heightened alert as well, we know that we need to maintain the regulations – as every side does up here.
“For us I say it’s a learning lesson but it’s one, a very expensive one and two, it’s been a pretty damaging one for the brand of the club and we’re really disappointed about that.”
Riewoldt agreed with chief executive Brendon Gale that Richmond had “lost some respect” but rejected suggestions the Tigers were “arrogant”.
“We’ve got some extremely humble people in here and they would cringe hearing that (arrogant), and I would cringe about them saying that about our people,” he said.
Riewoldt was confident the Tigers’ leaders were all “pushing in the right direction” and said the true test of Richmond’s culture would be how they moved forward.
“The culture is what you do next,” he said.
“How do you bounce back? How do you prepare and put this behind you and get ready for Friday night (and) a massive game of AFL football? How do you look after your people to get them through and get them going again?
“So the culture will be what pans out over the next period of time.”