Melbourne insists it still has a “high performance culture” despite controversy surrounding Clayton Oliver and Joel Smith over what has been labelled “isolated incidents”.
Coach Simon Goodwin has rejected claims the Demons became complacent and let standards fall in the wake of winning the 2021 premiership, saying their back-to-back top four appearances since could not have been achieved without a strong culture.
He said an alleged string of misdemeanours by Oliver and Smith’s positive drug test for cocaine on the eve of the finals were not reflective of the club’s wider culture.
“We haven’t got a cultural problem – we’ve got some isolated incidents that we’re going to deal with to help drive our culture forward,” Goodwin told SEN.
“We’re going to use the opportunity of the isolated incidents that we’re dealing with.
“We’re going to clean up some of the things that we’ve done so we can forge ahead and have the success that we have done … it doesn’t mean that we haven’t got some things that we need to address, iron out and get better.”
Goodwin revealed he had not spoken to Smith since news broke of his positive test earlier this month, saying he was “incredibly angry” one of his players had potentially used illicit drugs on the eve of Melbourne’s finals campaign.
When challenged on why he still had not spoken to Smith, Goodwin said the “right people” from the club were supporting Smith during the investigation by Sports Integrity Australia.
“I was incredibly angry, frustrated, to think that potentially we’ve got a player in round 23, on the eve of a finals series, not doing everything possible to help the success of our footy team, and I could only imagine the same feeling would be permeating through our supporter base,” Goodwin said.
“And I haven’t spoken to Joel, I’m going to let the process play out … because I have a good level of anger and frustration towards it.
“There are the right people that are talking to Joel from a welfare perspective and working really closely with him around that, but where I see it right now I’ve got a little bit of frustration because of everything.”
Goodwin did not answer directly when asked if Oliver had a drug abuse problem, saying he had “some personal challenges”.
“Those challenges have been ongoing for multiple years. This is something that’s been ongoing for our footy club and ongoing for our team for a number of years,” he said.
“We’re working incredibly closely with Clayton … to deal with his complex personal issues.”
The coach denied the club had ever considered moving Oliver on to another club during October’s trade period.
“We were wanting to get a clear commitment from Clayton that he was willing to do the work … and to want to be a part of the Melbourne footy club,” he said.
“We weren’t in a position where we wanted to trade Clayton Oliver.”
Asked when the club would “open itself up” to supporters to give an insight into its current culture, Goodwin said: “It starts now.”
https://www.perthnow.com.au/sport/afl-2023-clayton-oliver-on-notice-at-demons-over-personal-challenges-c-12383760 AFL 2023: Clayton Oliver on notice at Demons over ‘personal challenges’