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'We were not able to meaningfully change his behaviour': North CEO's email sheds light on Tarryn Thomas challenges

Jarred Cross -

North Melbourne were “struck” by their challenges to make meaningful progress to "change" Tarryn Thomas' behaviour", an email sent by the club’s chief executive amid the AFL’s recent stance against gender-based violence has revealed, according to The Age

As reported by the outlet on Wednesday, North boss Jennifer Watt commented on her club’s extensive efforts with the footballer in response to a message sent by West Coast chief executive Don Pyke urging the league to lead a united initiative as the issue engulfed Australia in recent weeks. 

Pyke’s move resulted in a collective gathering of opposition players, coaches and officials and a minute of silence to be observed before each match during round nine. 

In February, the Roos permanently closed their doors on Thomas after the league found him guilty of several breaches of the conduct unbecoming rules, ruled him out of competing at AFL level for 2024 and handed him an 18-week ban from playing at all levels of football.

Additional behavioural training requirements ahead of returning to any field were also set.

North football operations manager Todd Viney had said the club's verdict had become "simple decision", following repeated attempts with Thomas.

The decisions came after a string of claims and matters in the courts regarding Thomas’ alleged behaviour with women and periods stood down by the Roos over the previous 12 months.

In the email said to have been sent on May 1, Watt detailed part of their club’s efforts.

“(North president) Sonja (Hood) and I have been talking a lot about this, especially in light of the recent challenges we faced with Tarryn Thomas,” Watt wrote, according to The Age.

“We were struck by just how hard it was to find programs to support behaviour change. And this was for someone with considerable resources and support around them.

“We eventually found a combination of programs for Tarryn. Even though Tarryn ended up completing four different programs which included an extensive combination of education, therapy and participation-style programs, we were not able to meaningfully change his behaviour.”

According to The Age, chief executives from three different clubs, who who remained anonymous, said they were surprised Watt had referred to Thomas directly.

Reports have indicated multiple clubs’ interest in Thomas for a career rebirth from next year, as questions have been raised over the appropriateness of his potential return to the game.

Watt and Thomas’ manager declined to comment when approached by The Age

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